TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In their own words, that's how people living with and caring for those with Alzheimer's are helping raise awareness about the disease and open lines of communication.
Our Stories, a new national campaign, is a series of PSA's by the Alzheimer's Association and the Ad Council. They are real stories told by family members who noticed early signs of Alzheimer's in their loved ones.
It is one of the most difficult conversations a family can have, talking to a loved one about their cognitive decline. Most people say they don't know how to approach the situation or talk about it.
"You don't know if you are supposed to - but I've learned that you are," said Paul Rogers, Area President of IHeartMedia in Tallahassee, Panama City. "So in their more lucid moments you are supposed to talk to them and say, Mom- when you forget things - and we are talking to some other people - do you want me to remind you that you already said that?"
Rogers' knows first-hand the struggles of caring for a person in cognitive decline. His mother and his wife's parents have all been diagnosed with various types of dementia including Alzheimer's. He says the toll it takes on the family is difficult to explain and that caregivers need a lot of support.
"It's overwhelming financially, time spent on it, nobody sleeping right., difficult conversations, dynamics with siblings who may not be helping as they should," said Rogers.
An Alzheimer's Association survey shows that nine out of 10 Americans would want to be confronted about exhibiting symptoms of cognitive decline and three out of four confessed the difficulty in talking to family members about the topic.
The Alzheimer's Association and Ad Council's Our Stories campaign is a resource for families.
"The objective of this campaign is to encourage and empower families to really trust their instincts and share their stories and trust their instincts if they are noticing changes within themselves or loved ones," said Audrey Coachman, Program Manager of Alzheimer's Association.
Most importantly they say have the conversation early before there is a crisis. They want people to remember that when times get difficult.
"They are not alone in this situation, as I mention 5.8 million have Alzheimer's and that is about 16 million caregivers in the United States," said Coachman.
In addition to the campaign, the Alzheimer's Association also has a 24-7 helpline caregivers can call when they need support. That number is 800-272-3900.
You can see the Our Stories campaign at Alz.org. There, you can also share and upload your own story.
And coming up this month, The Longest Day— the summer solstice is on June 21. On that day thousands of people from across the world come together to fight the darkness of Alzheimer's through an activity of their choice to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Association. To participate just go to Alz.org.