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Bridging the Language Barrier
By Jude Roberts

(Page 2 of 2)

Even with this wonderful service available, many caregivers do not realize that the “24-7” Contact Center exists, as well as offering many other important programs for caregivers. During normal, weekday working hours, when someone calls the Alzheimer’s Association, the system automatically transfers them directly to the closest, local chapter. After hours and on weekends, when the national
800 number is contacted, headquarters in Chicago answers the call on behalf of the local chapters. There’s always someone accessible for caregivers to speak with, and the “language line” is available to them at all times. So far, there are 81 chapters from around the country who have partnered with the national office to be a part of the “24-7” Contact Center, and the number is expected to continue growing. With over 500 calls coming in on a daily basis, the “24-7” Contact Center is able to, as Cathy Sewell puts it, “empower caregivers to do what they need to do, like attend support groups, receive respite care, obtain important information regarding the disease, or receive a listening ear when they so desperately need one.”

Another service that has been a huge success and has had a great impact for the Alzheimer’s Association is the “Safe Return” program. Started 10 years ago, the “Safe Return” program is designed to help caregivers locate missing loved ones who have wandered off.. “At least 60% of all people with Alzheimer’s will wander at some point,” says Cathy, “with wandering occurring even in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.” When someone has been identified as having Alzheimer’s, their caregivers can have them enrolled in the national “Safe Return” program, which builds a composite for law enforcement agencies and authorities, enabling them to gain valuable information when searching for a missing loved one. The program provides loved ones with an ID bracelet which states that the person is part of the Alzheimer’s Association’s “Safe Return” program. The bracelet provides a telephone number that can be contacted immediately.

The program also distributes important information to local law enforcement agencies in the area where a loved one may be reported as missing, providing them with a photograph along with important medical and contact information. The ID bracelets are available in five different languages. There are about 108,000 loved ones registered with the “Safe Return” program, and to date, caregivers have been helped in successfully bringing home 8,000 wandering loved ones.

The Alzheimer’s Association has so much to offer both family and professional caregivers, and yet Cathy Sewell is concerned that many do not realize what’s available to them every day, around the clock, and at no cost. “The Alzheimer’s Association has a dual mission ... care and research ... we care about both deeply.” says Cathy, “We have some of the lowest administrative costs around, with only 20% of our funding being spent in this area, while 80% of the money we receive is spent on research to find a cure and on the different programs and services we offer caregivers. It’s a sincere privilege to be able to serve the families that need us.”

For more information on how to contact a local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association in your area, or to find out more about the “language line” translation service, the “24-7” Contact Center, the “Safe Return” program, or other services available to caregivers, call 800-272-3900.

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