Alzheimer's Foundation of America Unveils Interactive 'Community of Care' Web Site to Educate and Connect Family Caregivers

Mar 30, 2011, 15:35 ET from Alzheimer's Foundation of America

New Tool Responds to Increasing Needs, Numbers of Caregivers Nationwide

NEW YORK, March 30, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With the nation facing a huge swell in the number of individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) today unveiled an innovative, interactive "community of care" Web site that will help family caregivers meet other caregivers, learn about the brain disorder and connect "live" with experts.

Called Care Crossroads, the robust site—www.carecrossroads.org—addresses a major issue raised by caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer's disease: a feeling of isolation and stigma. It also fills a growing need for alternate types of support services, especially for caregivers whose round-the-clock responsibilities prevent them from interacting in person at organized programs.

"Caregiving, especially for loved ones with Alzheimer's disease, can be a very lonely as well as heartbreaking journey," said Eric J. Hall, AFA's president and CEO. "Care Crossroads is the ultimate Internet coffee shop for caregivers. Family members can gather here to obtain guidance from experts and gain insight, support and inspiration from each other. Both are critical in coping with the enormous challenges they face today and in preparing for what's ahead."

Among the site's highly-versatile and unique features, AFA's social workers are standing by to respond to questions and concerns on caregivers' own communication terms: online via live Skype and chat, as well as e-mail and phone calls to the organization's toll-free hot line at 866-232-8484.

Caregivers are introduced to other caregivers via "I Care" video stories and creative contributions, with more of each to be posted regularly.

In addition, in partnership with Inspire, an online multi-disease health and wellness support community, caregivers can talk with like-minded peers on various issues—from diagnosis to end-of-life decision making—on an active discussion board.

Then, featured in the site's "learn" section, the "House of Care" is the go-to place where visitors can click on specific rooms to learn more about strategies for behavioral challenges, recreational activities and safety issues appropriate for the specific stages of the disease.

All of these various elements provide the type of support that caregivers like Judith Flynn, for example, desperately need. Her husband was diagnosed with the disease at age 53.

"To me, it's very important that I be able to share my feelings about all the changes that have gone on in my life, the sadness that I feel in losing my husband to this disease," said Flynn, in a video that welcomes visitors to the "meet" section of Care Crossroads.

Currently, as many as 5.1 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, and the incidence is expected to multiply three-fold by mid-century due largely to the nation's aging population. Advanced age is the greatest known risk factor for the disease, which primarily affects people 65 and older. About 70 percent of people with Alzheimer's disease live at home, where families provide at least 75 percent of their care.

Care Crossroads was made possible by funding from Eisai Inc. and Pfizer Inc.

The new Web site joins a network of AFA Web sites and AFA's multiple educational resources, including a free, quarterly magazine for caregivers, care ADvantage; a "Your Time to Care" DVD series on care issues, wandering, medication management and falls prevention; and a monthly teleconference that links up to 150 caregivers from across the country.

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America is a national nonprofit organization that focuses on providing optimal care to individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and their families, and unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide. Its services include a toll-free hot line, counseling by licensed social workers, educational materials, training for healthcare professionals, and a free caregiver magazine. For more information, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.

SOURCE Alzheimer's Foundation of America



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