Jan 052010

Helping Older Adults Take Charge Of Their Own Health – Programs funded through the Illinois Department of Public Health

The Alzheimer’s Demonstration Project enrolls clients, escorted elders to their own physicians for medical assessments and enrolls people with memory problems in the Safe Return Program.  One Safe Return enrollee, who could not speak English at all, was safely reunited with his family after getting off a bus many miles from his home.  We work closely with the Alzheimer’s Association and Northwestern’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, bringing education to ethnic communities and a review of the Alzheimer’s Disease protocol to bi-lingual, bi-cultural physicians.

Alzheimer’s Project Summary

The Alzheimer’s Project is a unique collaboration of three partners and nine ethnic specific organizations that seeks to provide assistance and support to almost 400 families of identified Alzheimer’s disease patients in underserved populations that do not understand Alzheimer’s disease and find it difficult, due to language and culture, to obtain a comprehensive medical assessment, access services and provide appropriate care in the home.

The partners and their role in the Alzheimer’s Project are:

Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly (CLESE): providing overall project administration, coordination with nine participating ethnic specific organizations; collecting and analyzing data; and translating materials.

Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center (CNADC) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine: providing established dementia diagnostic guidelines to bi-lingual community physicians in an accessible, easy-to-use format and being a resource for community physicians in evaluating, treating and managing the care of their patients and families who have memory problems, Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.

Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Illinois Chapter: providing staff members who give information to ethnic agency representatives and presentations at the participating ethnic specific agencies on Alzheimer’s disease and the management of symptoms associated with memory problems.

Memory problems are considered a normal part of aging in Limited English Proficient (LEP) communities; entire families, not ‘caregivers,’ provide care; support groups are culturally unfamiliar; bi-lingual community physicians may not be familiar with dementia assessment protocols.  To overcome these barriers, ethnic agency staff members are trained in distinguishing normal memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.  Community physicians or the Alzheimer’s Association provide educational sessions for family members and the larger community in how to cope with disease symptoms.

Older adults with memory problems are enrolled in the Safe Return Program; they are provided with needed community-based services such as home care or adult day service; and they are encouraged to visit their physician for a comprehensive assessment to rule out and treat any conditions causing memory problems.

Building Better Bones
Building Better Bones
, an osteoporosis education and screening program.  Women attend sessions where a doctor presents information in their own language on osteoporosis.  After the education session, women have their heel bone screened for osteoporosis.  Women at risk are referred to their own doctors.

Understanding Menopause
Understanding Menopause
, funded through the Office of Women’s Health within the Illinois Department of Public Health, brings education on how to manage this important transition in women’s lives.  Women make behavior or lifestyle changes as a result of the education sessions.

Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program
The Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program teaches what the numbers of your body are (for example, a blood pressure reading of 120/80), the warning signs of heart attack and stroke and how to call 911 in an emergency.

Providing health information at community-based agencies on topics such as osteoporosis, understanding menopause, heart disease, stroke prevention and smoking cessation.