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Dementia symposium raises awareness, connects people to care

Ashley Hirtzel

The Western New York Alzheimer’s Association held a Dementia Care Symposium in Cheektowaga Friday. The day-long event aims to spread awareness about the disease and how to get help for loved ones at risk.

The forum was open to medical professionals, family members, and caregivers. It touched on how dementia patients can get involved in clinical trials, overcoming stress or burnout when caring for those diagnosed with the disease. There was also information provided about prevention, diagnosis and care.

Alzheimer’s Association Executive Director Leilani Pelletier says the symposium also connected dementia caregivers with various local support organizations. She says she believes if dementia isn’t slowed by 2025, the cost of care will be  financially crippling to the United States.

“Right now it’s $214 billion this country spends on Alzheimer’s disease on everything from Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement to out-of-pocket expenses and lost days at work. If we don’t flip that around and we don’t take care of this disease quickly, the emotional toll is only going to be one devastation. We’re then going to have the fiscal devastation,” said Pelletier.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel
Director of Education and Training with the Alzheimer’s Association Meghan Fadel.

Director of Education and Training with the Alzheimer’s Association Meghan Fadel says her advice is if your family member is showing signs of the disease to reach out for help right away.

“So often we see family’s who wait, they put it off. You can solve so many issues now by taking care of things. There actually are a lot of resources out there and we’re happy to help connect you with those to make sure that your loved ones are getting the care they need and you’re taken care of yourself as a caregiver,” said Fadel.

Pelletier add that in order to reduce risk of dementia it’s important to lower your cholesterol and keep your mind sharp. She says anyone with questions and in need of more information can contact the Western New York Alzheimer’s Association at 1-800-272-3900.