Alzheimer’s Association unites community members to spread awareness

By: Julia Demma Last Updated: March 1, 2019

Community members gathered in a safe space on Thursday night to confide in each other and discover services provided to aid those effected by Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association of greater Indiana hosted the event in hopes to better understand how to meet the area’s needs to serve them adequately.

“2,700 people are estimated to be living with dementia in Porter County alone. The need for help is undeniably there and we know that we could better serve these needs and reach more people,” said Sarah Milligan, Social Worker Care Consultant for the Alzheimer’s Association of Northwest Indiana.

The community forum was focused for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, as well as care givers, healthcare providers, loved ones and family members who have been affected by the disease in some way.

“My mom suffers from Alzheimer’s and I think it’s really important for more people to become aware and to be educated about the disease because there’s such a stigma and a sense of denial that surrounds it,” said community member, Cindy Mathias.

Outside of raising awareness about what The Alzheimer’s Association, the event focused on interacting with community members to understand community needs and concerns. Discussion also addressed how to fix these points.

The most common complaint highlighted the idea that many doctor’s offices in the region have yet to fully utilize or realize the plethora of services The Alzheimer’s Association offers. Some resources include support groups, a 24/7 Helpline response service, education programs and care consultations.

“It’s important to be aware and educated about the disease. A lot of doctor’s and physicians will either go through a generic questionnaire test or have no information to offer at all, and that’s sad to go through,” said community member Joanne Murrell.

When the group was asked about shared common barriers or difficulties they face when considering asking for help, many community members admitted they feared facing embarrassment due to the stigma that surrounds Alzheimer’s. However, looking around the room, everyone felt comfort in the space they were sharing.

“Tonight was helpful because people realized that there are many going through the same types of things. It’s allowed the opportunity for other people to share ideas and suggestions that you may not have known about before,” said Mathias.

Overall, the event helped pin point where community members see gaps in terms of available resources and access to them, discussed questions about the disease itself and planned steps on how to more forward as a community.

“After putting on these events, we’ve realized that we need to focus our efforts into outreach and increasing awareness to community members about everything we can offer to help them,” Mathias said.

The Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Indiana can only continue to provide to community members through dedicated and loyal volunteers. Some volunteer opportunities include community educator, community outreach promoters, early-stage social engagement leaders, program assistance, support group facilitators and more. If you are interested in helping out the greater cause, visit IndianaVolunteer@alz.org or call (317) 575-9260 for more information.