Bob Le Roy, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association, Washington State Chapter, talks about Discovery 2019, the 34th Annual Alzheimer’s Regional Conference. The conference’s theme in 2019 is resilience. Anyone who’s been a caregiver knows you have to be resilient. The association’s philosophy is about honoring and celebrating lives, providing tools and resources so people can continue to be part of the community, remain at home longer, and connect caregivers to many others going on the same journey.
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The following is a podcast from a qualified senior care provider part on the answers for elders radio show. And welcome everyone to answers for elders radio. And I am here with one of our favorite guests in the world, Mr Bob Leroy, and he’s the executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter, and we’re here at the discovery conference at the Washington State Convention Center. Bob, I’m so glad I get a chance to nail you down and say hello. Thanks, Susanne. I always appreciate our time together. We do so much because we learned so much every time you come on the show. You know you have this amazing you know wisdom about what’s going on in the world of Alzheimer’s and dementia, and you know some of it’s hard to hear, but I also there’s hope in it, and that’s, I think, the really important part about what you’re you know what the Alzheimer’s Association is really about. It’s about helping families go through but at the same time you guys are really giving families hope and I think that’s important part. Well, I hope so. That’s that’s really essential to our messy message in our mission. We want to encourage people and get them thinking in terms of how to honor and celebrate lives. It really is and I know that I’ve had the privilege of participating in the walks and and being involved in that level and to see the support that you guys are there for. And this conference in particular is called the discovery conference and it’s a regional is it right? Regional? It is regional in scope. We this is our thirty four annual conference, so we’ve been doing this for a while and we have typically brought people in from four or five states in the northwest, from British Columbia. We even had a gentleman from Saudi Arabia join US last year, my goodness. So yes, regional is a relative concept, I guess right. But we really want to make this available to folks from from throughout the North Wales. And obviously, what do you do at the discovery conference? Well, it has an interesting history. It was created originally for professional caregivers and providers and it’s still has that theme and focus, but over the years we’ve had more and more individuals, family caregivers and persons living with dementia come forward and and and join us, and that, I think, is a reflection of the scope and impact of the disease and also how anxious people are for information that is evidence based and dementia specific and provided from a source that they try. US Well, and that’s the key, because there’s the Internet, will tell you all kinds of things that may or may not be true. Yeah, but the point of the matter being is, I think really what families need is they need a daily touch point. They need a touch point where they can go to, whether it’s online, whether it’s eight hundred number, whether it’s resources that you provide in your conferences or the walks or different things like that. And you know, education is the word. Education is power to understand the process and have you, guys as a as a resource is such a huge, huge thing. Well, thank you. We hope so. So obviously you have different kinds of speakers here and you do different types of workshops. You know, some of them I I’ve got had the privilege to talk to. But what is the primary, I guess, focus or message that you want to provide too families? Well, I think we always try to come up with a theme, and our theme for this year is resilience and and anyone who is or has been a caregiver knows that you have to be, among many other things, resilience. Really our philosophy, as I suggested earlier, is all about honoring and celebrating lives, about focusing not on deficits but on strength, and on providing some tools and resources so that folks can can continue to to be a part of the community right, so that folks can remain at home for a longer period of time, so that their family caregivers feel, as you suggested earlier, that that sense of connectivity, not only to an organization but to a group of peers who are maybe a different places but they’re on the same journey, and that peer to peer support can make such a difference. Well, and I see it a lot when I’m on social media. I belong to several caregiver groups, you can imagine, and there’s so many, you know, especially like the Alzheimer’s Group. I would say more so than anything, these caregivers, I will say they’re their saints. You know, they they have so they put up so much in their lives. You know they have so much stress and pressure and trying to somehow, you know, put their lives on hold for someone else to take care of that loved one. And you know, there’s so much a sense of they need help, they need that connection and what you guys do is so important. So you a long time you go. You were on the site and the show and you talked about there’s like Washington state has one of the highest ratios of people with dementia. Is that still true? Alzheimer’s? Well, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death nationally. It’s the third leading cause of death, age adjusted, in our state and and we honestly believe that that’s do at least in part to folks in our state providers and agencies doing a better job with death certificates. Oh Really? Yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah, because far too often, although dementia may be clearly an underlying cause of death, it may not this seldom. It is seldom. Well, I won’t say seldom, it is less frequency the proximate cause of death. My mother, for example, on her death certificate it says she died of convive congestive heart failure, which she did, but it was exacerbated by by her dementia and and and so we’re on a bit of a mission now to encourage providers and and people in the in the funeral industry to really take more seriously be more diligent about including, we’re appropriate right, Alzheimer’s and Demensia on the desk. You know. So interesting you say that because same thing. My mom died of, well, heart attack, but she had vascular dimension. So you know, when you’re thinking about heart attack and you know, and her vascular system as well. I was given out. Obviously that was the thing that I think is kind of interesting what you’re saying, that what her cause of death, it shows is heart disease. Yeah, yeah, I will also say that the the the related but but broader challenge is that we believe that only about half of those living in our state with some form of dementia have been formally diagnosed. Wow, and if you haven’t been diagnosed, the chances of your being included in any kind of sure of data are slim tonight, slim to none. And and it actually gets more troubling. Of the fifty percent that are diagnosed, less than a half of them are informed of the diagnosis by their doctors. Wow, and of that number, fewer than one and ten is referred to an Alzheimer’s Organization. So amazing. We have so much work to do around educating the public at large and the provider community in particular, about what’s really going on. It’s amazing. So we are talking again to Bob Leroy, and you are the executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association, The Washington State Chapter, and we’ve talked a lot about, you know, the resources, but tell us a little bit about what’s available right here in Washington State for families that are dealing with loved ones with Alzheimer’s. We have a lot of resources that are available over the phone and online. We have a wonderful seven toll free helpline and staff by master’s level social workers. It’s often the gateway for individuals and families not only to the services at supports that the association provides, but to those that are provided offered by community partners. Right Agency’s on aging right well, and I give that number out a lot to people. I’m just for our listeners here. That number is one eight hundred two and seven two thirty nine hundred and they can come in and talk about they can call about all types of situation. My Gosh, we get questions. My husband managed our money for years and last week he wrote five checks to the utility company. What Co could I talk to? My wife got lost on the way home from safe way. We’ve lived in the same neighborhood for twenty five years. I think something’s going on. I’m trying to be a good caregiver for my father. I don’t know what I’m doing. Is there a support grouped write my area? So those are the kinds of questions. My husband is so much bigger than I am. How do I get him out of the Bathtub? Yeah, really, and you guys are a great not one completely nonpartisan resource on what is that? You know, how do we you? How can they help you assess your loved one? So you know, like you said, I can’t get my husband out of bed and yet my husband needs help. That’s a huge red flag. Yeah, that wife can’t do it on her own. You’re not an island. You need help and you need support and this is a really good step to go with. And you know, being here at the Discovery Conference and where you’re getting a lot of education and things like that, and you do this conference once a year. Is that correct? But well, we do, but we do other conferences throughout the year in different communities, different sizes, different audiences. For example, we have an annual early stage memory loss forum that’s coming up in May oh university place, and it is specifically for folks who perhaps haven’t even been diagnosed, yes, or have been diagnosed but they’re in the first few persons, few months. That’s amazing. It’s for purses went dimension and their and their caregivers. That’s so important. We do to caregiver conferences a year and Snow Homish County we do another program of breakfast program in Snow Homish county every spring for medical providers, okay, for physicians and and for Wow. So that is so important. And you can get all the information on the Alzheimer’s website. Yes, and so what is that the address on the website? It’s WWWA L Z wa Dot Org. HMM. And you asked about resources. That’s another really important resource. There’s a great deal of information on our website. We link to community partners from the website as well. That’s great. We’ve talked about community education. We work with over a hundred and twenty support groups around the stage. So many ways to help. That’s awesome. And again you can reach the Alzheimer’s Association at one eight hundred two seven two, three thousand nine hundred. Bob, thanks so much for me so today. Appreciate the opportunity answers for elders radio show with Susan Newman. Hopes you found this podcast useful in your journey of navigating senior care. Check out more podcast like this to help you find qualified senior care experts and areas of financial, legal, health and wellness and living options. Learn about our radio show, receive our monthly newsletter, receive promotional discounts and meet our experts by clicking on the banner to join the Senior Advocate Network at answers for elders RADIOCOM. Now there is one place to find the answers for elders
Suzanne Newman, host of the Answers for Elders radio show and podcast, proclaims often, “Caring for my mom was the hardest thing I ever have done, but it was also my greatest privilege.” Following a career of over 25 years in sales, media, and marketing management, Suzanne embarked on a 6-year-journey caring for her mother. Her trials and tribulations as a family caregiver inspired an impassioned life mission outside of the corporate world to revolutionize the journey that so many other American families also find themselves on. Answers for Elders provides education, help, and support to families, caregivers, and seniors across the country who are experiencing their own unique journey within the complicated world of Eldercare. Each week, Suzanne is joined by vetted professional experts in over 65 categories including health & wellness, life changes, living options, money, law, and more. Suzanne lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their two doodle dogs, Whidbey and Skagit.