TRMC makes suggestions for caregivers

Published 3:00 am Friday, August 28, 2015

As the leader of the Alzheimer’s Support Group that meets monthly at Troy Regional Medical Center, Ann Marie Hussey is an advocate for those who are caring for loved ones with memory loss.

Hussey’s dad, Ray Hickman, was a victim of Alzheimer’s, and she knows first-hand the devastating toll this disease takes on the victim and the family, especially the caregiver.

“A recent situation with a caregiver has really troubled me, and I think many people could be caught in a similar situation if they are not made aware,” Hussey said. “The situation with this caregiver was extreme, but it’s something anyone who has a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia could experience.”

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Hussey said Alzheimer’s is a dirty word.

“People should not be ashamed when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s,” she said. “Trying to keep it a secret or denying that it is happening could have serious consequences.”

Hussey cited the situation where a caregiver of an Alzheimer’s victim went to the bank to withdraw money from the couple’s savings account only to learn that her husband had withdrawn the money from all of their accounts.

“She thought they had enough money to live out their lives comfortably and suddenly they were broke,” Hussey said. “She has no idea what her husband did with the money. She doesn’t know if he gave it away or buried it. All she knows is that it’s gone.”

The husband had always taken care of the couple’s finances. No one knew his condition, so no red flags were raised when he went to withdraw the funds, Hussey said.

“It’s good for all of us to get our affairs in order but especially important for those who have loved ones who have Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia,” she said. “No one plans on getting sick, but we all need to prepare for the uncertainties of the future. We need to make decisions and arrangements before they are needed. We need to make sure our personal and financial records are in order. And, we need to have a will to let it be known who should receive the things we own.”

Hussey said, when a loved one is suffering from memory loss and someone has to take over their affairs, a power of attorney gives someone the right to handle personal or financial matters.

“An advance directive describes in writing what your wishes are about health care in case you become terminally ill,” she said. “A living will or power of attorney can make it easier for family members facing hard health care decisions on a relative’s behalf.”

Hussey said anyone who is caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia is invited to attend the Alzheimer’s Support Group meeting at noon on Thursday at Troy Regional Medical Center. Lunch is provided by the hospital.

“The information that we have to share can be very beneficial,” Hussey said. “And, it’s always good to be in the company of others who are facing similar issues and challenges in caring for a loved one who has memory loss.”

Hussey said everyone is reminded of “A Walk to Remember” on Oct. 3 at Westgate Park in Dothan. The walk is a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Resource Center in Dothan, which is a resource source for the Alzheimer’s Support Group in Troy.