Caring for someone with a debilitating disease like Alzheimer’s can make you feel isolated and, sometimes, tethered to your home. But there’s a new way to connect with the outside world.
ALZConnected is a website started by the Alzheimer’s Association to provide emotional support to caregivers and to help with problem-solving.
It’s a social-networking community, designed specifically for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. There is no cost, and users can connect and communicate with people who understand their challenges.
But they also can control how much personal information is revealed about themselves and their situation, she said.
The site, which is available nationally at www.alzconnected.org, was introduced late last year and officially launched in March for members of the Alzheimer’s community.
It works like your are sitting in a support group and somebody is sitting there saying, ‘Hey, have you tried this approach?'
Features include message boards, public and private groups, and ways to get answers to questions or offer solutions to others. It also has a secure system for getting private messages via inbox.
More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, with much of the care being provided by loved ones. In 2011, 15.2 million family members and friends provided 17.4 billion hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
A lot of times people say, ‘I can’t go to a support group because I can’t leave my loved one,’ or ‘My loved one doesn’t want me to leave,’ but people can hop on ALZConnected whenever they find a free moment.
Topics include how to tell when it’s time for someone with Alzheimer’s to stop driving or to be placed in a residential care facility.
ALZConnected is “kind of like a support group online, where you actually feel that others know what you’re talking about and they’re going through the same thing that you’re going through.”