Alzheimer’s Foundation Expands Toll-free Helpline to Support Patients, Caregivers

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by Mary Chapman |

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The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is expanding the availability of its National Toll-Free Helpline — adding weekend hours as well as chat and message features in dozens of languages — to provide greater support to patients and family members.

The resource’s hours now are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. Previously, the service was only available Monday through Friday.

In addition, new web chat and text message features can serve people in 90+ languages. The helpline had previously only offered assistance for those who spoke English or Spanish.

Under the Helpline program, people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers and family members can reach a licensed social worker by calling 866-232-8484.  Text messages can be sent to 646-586-5283. Callers also can visit the AFA website and click on the Helpline phone number in the upper right corner.

Another way to communicate is by visiting the AFA website and clicking on the blue and white “chat” icon in the lower right corner. The web chat and text message functions can serve Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients and caregivers in more than 90 languages.

“Having a place to turn for answers, support or even just a sympathetic ear to listen is so important when you’re dealing with Alzheimer’s disease,” Charles J. Fuschillo Jr., AFA’s president and CEO, said in a press release.

“In the constantly changing world we’re living in right now, families affected by Alzheimer’s disease need help now more than ever,” Fuschillo said. “Expanding our helpline hours is another way we can serve them in their time of need.”

Helpline staffers answer questions, provide support, and connect callers to a variety of AFA events, services, and resources. This includes AFA educational materials and its National Memory Screening Program. The staffers also will connect patients and family members with other resources nationally. The social workers are specifically trained in dementia care.

The program can assist callers with topics that include:

  • Signs and symptoms of AD and other dementia-related illnesses
  • Caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s or similar illness
  • Building a care team and support network
  • Measures caregivers can take to care for themselves
  • Information about brain health and wellness
  • Strategies for discussing memory changes
  • Connecting with local support services

Founded in 2002, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America provides support, services, and education to individuals, families, and caregivers affected by the progressive neurodegenerative disease and related dementias nationwide. It also funds research for better treatments and a cure.

Some 44 million people globally are said to have Alzheimer’s or a related form of dementia, including 5.5 million in the United States. Nearly all of the U.S. patients (5.3 million) are 65 and older. The remaining 200,000 individuals are younger and have early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

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