Alzheimer’s Education Conference offers guidance for caregivers

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 1, 2015) – Hundreds of people are gathering in the Circle City to learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease Friday.

The Alzheimer’s Association is hosting its Education Conference at the Marriott North to provide caregivers and medical professionals new information about treating patients living with the disease.  Statistics recently released by the association show more than 110,000 Hoosiers currently have Alzheimer’s.

Kent Sharp said he was not prepared to hear a doctor tell him his wife was sick.

“I was surprised,” he said. “I had a hard time believing it because I didn’t see any problems.”

His wife, Ray, asked that they keep the diagnosis private. But, her disease soon progressed to the point where her speech was greatly affected.

“It’s depressing because she can’t do the things she used to do,” Sharp said.

Sheryl Chamberlain’s husband, Roger,  was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s before the age of 60. He too asked that they not share news of the diagnosis with family and friends.

“He said I don’t want anybody to know because they will just make fun of me,” Chamberlain said.

After some time, Roger could no longer drive or dial a phone. Chamberlain realized they had no choice but to tell those closest to them about their struggle.

Both Sharp and Chamberlain said they found unexpected support once they let others know about the life-changing diagnosis.

“I felt almost free,” said Sharp about writing a Christmas letter to family detailing his wife’s health condition.

Chamberlain now has a message for other caregivers who are quietly trying to cope with their loved one’s disease.

“Reach out to your friends, let your friends and family know because most of them are there for you,” Chamberlain said.

The Alzheimer’s Association hopes Friday’s conference will offer guidance to caregivers.

“A lot of our programs aand support groups help to normalize the experience and understand they are not alone,” said Kristie Ritchie, the Family and Community Education Specialist for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Friday’s conference is sold out with around 450 attending. The Alzheimer’s Association has a 24-hour hotline for anyone who needs help or more information. The number is 1-800-272-3900.