Challenges of looking after a loved one with Alzheimer’s

Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 1:35 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Cognitive Health broke ground Tuesday on a new larger campus and resource center for Alzheimer’s patients.

It’s located on Lutheran Drive across from the California Dreaming restaurant on Washington Road.

The new center will include a brain health center, a physical activities center and walking track, a volunteer hub, a workshop, a home hub, and a music and artistic expression studio.

The new center is being made possible with help from donors and the Knox Foundation.

Cognitive Health, formerly the Jud C. Hickey Center, has served families facing Alzheimer’s at its Central Avenue location since 1986.

With the increasing aging population, the number of individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease in Georgia is expected to grow to over 190,000 in the next five years - an increase of about 27%.

Research centers like this can help more than just the patients. It can also help by offering information to caregivers.

We talked to a couple of caregivers about the challenges they face taking care of their loved ones.

“The most challenging one moment in that journey is the one moment where they don’t recognize you or realize who you are. That’s a very crushing moment,” said Charlie Tudor.

When the only memory left is the one framed.

“There’s that one day where they’re not able to walk or not able to do those things that they’re used to doing. That independence that you’ve grown up with them with,” he said.

It’s up to the ones that will be holding the picture long after they’re gone to help them.

“You make the best decisions that are in front of you at that point in time. Less engagement, less involvement. From a facility standpoint, means more involvement on the family or friend standpoint,” he said.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s.

With that number only expected to increase, demand for care does too.

Carol Campbell is the caregiver and wife of Terry Campbell. She said, “When he was diagnosed at AU, they just kind of left me hanging. I mean, they were wonderful but I started trying to find places that give you support or give you guidance in what you should be doing with him.”

Terry has been living with dementia for two years. He attends the Jud C. Hickey Center two days a week.

“It gives me freedom to do what I need to. His mind has gotten better to a degree. I mean, he can, he doesn’t get so frustrated,” she said.

Hoping that one day, with a new facility, that becomes other caregivers’ reality too.

Terry said: “We’ve been married for a long time. So the longer it goes, the better off it is.”

The new campus and resource center will include a brain health center and much more. They’re planning a physical activities center and expression studio. It’s all expected to be completed in 2023.