What Does Mary Say?

Dear Mary,

My dad was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He is willing to sell his house and move in with my husband and me, but I don’t know what to do or where to go for help when we need it.

Dear Reader,

You are fortunate to live in Anne Arundel County where the Department of Aging and Disabilities has excellent support services. As you wait for your dad to arrive, pick up the 2014-2015 Services for Seniors, Adults with Disabilities, and Caregivers directory which can be found at area libraries, local stores, county senior centers or at the Department of Aging and Disabilities office on Riva Road. You can also view the online version on our website at www.aacounty.org/aging The directory provides brief descriptions of department programs as well as a multitude of community resources.

Information and assistance (I&A) staff (410.222.4257) are the gateway to the many programs at the Department. Even when you don’t know what questions to ask, I&A specialists will help you navigate systems and resources and make sure that you speak to the right folks.

Through I&A staff, you can request an adult evaluation and review (AERS) for your dad. A nurse or social worker will conduct a physical and psychosocial examination in the home and help the family develop a care management plan, linking them to resources within the department and the community.

The Respite Care Referral Program maintains a registry of self-employed caregivers. Although they are not employees of the department, a background check is conducted on each worker (annually) and they receive initial and ongoing training by the department. The workers provide in-home care, allowing family members to take a break or to maintain their employment.

Should you have any questions regarding your dad’s health insurance plan, you can speak with staff or trained volunteers from the State Health Insurance Assistance Program. It assists clients with understanding Medicare benefits, supplemental options, Part D and Medicare Advantage options.

If your dad is still active, he can participate in events at one of the seven local senior centers. As the disease progresses, he may be able to attend a Senior Center Plus program which provides some personal assistance for frail seniors to participate in senior center activities. If needed, a Department of Aging and Disabilities van can provide curb-to-curb transportation to a senior center or to a doctor’s appointment.

For you, the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) facilitates monthly family support groups, caregiver education programs, an annual caregivers’ conference and caregiver appreciation events. When funding is available, the program provides small stipends to family caregivers for respite care or grants for an emergency response system for those who are at risk of falling.  You can find the 2015 Winter-Spring Caregiver Workshop schedule online at www.aacounty.org/aging and in the Winter edition of Outlook by the Bay. The 2015 Support Group schedule can be found online or by calling 410.222.4464, ext. 3043. Join our mail and email list so that you can receive up-to-date information on caregiver events.

Dear Mary,

I take care of my aunt who has dementia. All she wants to do all day is sit in a chair and watch television.  I know physical activity is important so how do I motivate her?

Dear Reader,

There can be several reasons why your aunt wants to sit. Was an active person before the dementia? It could be that she was never interested in exercise. She may be unsure of what she is supposed to do or afraid of doing something wrong so she feels safe just staying in one place. She could be experiencing pain and unable to let you know. Talk to her physician anout what is going on.

If you are not able to budge her and the doctor says there is nothing physically wrong, interact with her throughout the day, playing card games, looking though photo albums, listening to music. Be careful what shows she is watching on television; individuals with dementia often have a difficult time ascertaining what is real in their world. Put on some old musicals or comedies and watch with her.

Do make sure that she goes to the toilet on a regular basis throughout the day.

I encourage you to participate in the virtual dementia tour run by the Education Program Department of Aging and Disabilities, which will be operated throughout 2015. The education session is an excellent tool for family members, as well as the general community, in understanding the physical and mental challenges of those with dementia.

Questions and comments can be sent to Mary Chaput at the Department of Aging & Disabilities, 2666 Riva Road, Suite 400, Annapolis, or emailed to [email protected]




Please support OutLook by the Bay with a subscription.

OutLook by the Bay magazine and this website are made possible through the support of our advertisers and subscribers. We guarantee you’ll learn something new each issue. Please subscribe today.