Johns Hopkins Gazette: October 24, 1994

Alzheimer's Association offers Support, Hotline for Caregivers
By Chris Rowett

One of the worst aspects of Alzheimer's disease is also the best.
    "If there's anything that is good about Alzheimer's, it's
that patients forget their behavior," said Edna Ellett, director
of development and public relations for the Baltimore Alzheimer's
Disease and Related Disorders Association. "So if a patient is
giving someone a hard time, that person might want to walk out of
the room, and then walk right back in. The patient has forgotten
the incident."
    The Baltimore Alzheimer's Association was established 15
years ago to assist clients with the emotional, physical and
financial issues associated with the neurological disease.
Programs include 30 support groups throughout the region, a
telephone hotline and a safe return program.
    "Alzheimer's patients tend to wander," Ellett said. "So
patients are registered in a national registry. If the person is
found, whoever finds them can call the 800 number and help
reunite them with family."
    The association is one of the more than 115 service agencies
that will benefit from Hopkins United Way contributions. There is
no official membership in the organization, but support groups
are open to anyone in Baltimore city and county and Anne Arundel,
Harford, Howard, Carroll and Cecil counties. Some group meetings
are held specifically for those just diagnosed with Alzheimer's;
others are offered to caregivers and family members.
    "Sometimes you just want to scream," Ellett said. "If you
want to scream, you can scream. Or if you want to laugh about
some of the things, you can sit there and laugh. No one is going
to judge you."
    Though some patients may want to avoid thinking about a will
and issuing power of attorney, both need to be put in order,
Ellett said. 
    "Sometimes you can make decisions for yourself when you are
still able to make decisions," she said. 
    The association also has books and videos about Alzheimer's
for loan and an emergency relief fund available if the caregiver
is called away.
    "Most caregivers are elderly," Ellett said. "Our concern is
that caregivers take care of the patients and wear themselves
    "We emphasize care for the caregiver," she added. "You just
can't be with an Alzheimer's patient 24 hours a day."

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