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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Extension Newsletter Supports Caregivers

LAS CRUCES -- Seventy percent of people with Alzheimer's live at home, requiring care from their family and friends. For those who have had no caregiver training, this can be overwhelming.

Help is available from a quarterly newsletter, the "Alzheimer's News," said Lee Loney, home economist and county program director with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service in Otero County.

"Alzheimer's News" is a joint effort between Extension and The Aristocrat Assisted Living Residences and Alzheimer's Units of Alamogordo and Las Cruces. "With the newsletter, we're trying to fill an educational need for caregivers of Alzheimer's patients," Loney said.

Caregivers frequently don't get enough support from family and friends, she said. "They may harbor feelings of guilt if they have to place their loved one in a nursing facility or have a sense of 'losing' the person to the disease even before he or she passes away."

Alzheimer's is a progressive, degenerative brain disease that severely impairs memory, thinking and behaviors and, ultimately, may result in the complete loss of intellectual and physical functions. In New Mexico, more than 26,000 people suffer from this disease. Nationwide, approximately 4 million Americans have Alzheimer's.

Other facts, provided by The The Alzheimer's Association, include:

* One in 10 people over the age of 64 and nearly half of those over 85 have Alzheimer's disease.
* The average lifetime care cost per patient is estimated to be $174,000.
* Alzheimer's is the third most expensive disease to treat in the United States, after heart disease and cancer.

"Our newsletter includes book reviews, recent research findings and articles on coping with the stress of caregiving," Loney said. "We also have a humor section with jokes and funny stories, because caregivers need a chance to laugh."

For more information or to subscribe to "Alzheimer's News," contact Loney at (505) 437-0231.