The associates of Elder Care Advocacy of Florida highly commend The Tampa Tribune for the excellent presentation regarding the plight of Alzheimer’s victims and their loved ones. The Tribune’s Michelle Bearden has put a face on this mind-robbing, soul-stealing disease that may well impact every reader (“Bernie’s War,” front page, Aug. 11).
Although there is much emphasis on a “cure” for Alzheimer’s, it will be some time before that day is at hand. The here and now warrants our concern. Years of quality living are attainable with professional guidance and medications.
Florida is extremely fortunate to have USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute, with the internationally known Dr. Dave Morgan and the expertise of Dr. Amanda Smith, who’s outstanding ability to accomplish early detection through screening is widely acclaimed.
In 1992 at the Caregivers Conference in Sebring, the need for a guide to assist family members and caregivers in coping with this horrendous malady resulted in the development of a caregivers manual that was tailored to the specific resources that were available in the regions of Florida. We learned a great deal from that conference. And we continue to learn to this day — as this is vital to Florida since we have more than 10 percent of the United States’ diagnosed victims, with the number increasing each year.
Grandchildren have no idea how this has debilitated their loved one. The children of the patient are struggling, as they feel bound to care for those who cared for them in their time of need. But care for the patient, and the caregivers, is available. It should be utilized at the earliest stages in order to provide quality living for both. Please, if in doubt, have screening for early detection. Let us not be too proud to take advantage of these services.
Austin R. Curry
The writer is executive director of Elder Care Advocacy of Florida.