Economic Woes Hard on those with Alzheimer’s and their Caregivers

Miami, FL (MMD Newswire) May 11, 2009 — “With lost jobs and foreclosed homes, families caring for those in the moderate to advanced stages of Alzheimers disease at home are hitting the breaking point. Recalibrating their expectations in ways they never imagined, families are looking for answers and we can’t afford to ignore them.” Dr. Zo Ann Lewis stated at recent caregiver conference in Miami. “In this economy we are seeing financial barriers that prevent families from accessing help for their loved ones with Alzheimer’s. For many confronting this disease, the finances targeted for their golden years evaporated and families are getting desperate with fewer options if they are caring for a parent at home.”

May 10-13, HBO is airing “The Alzheimer’s Project,” and millions of viewers are expected to increase their awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and how it affects individuals and their family. Dr. Lewis hopes this will be the beginning of a movement to see greater efforts made to support those in our communities suffering now. In a recent report, The 2009 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures’, states an estimated 5.1 million Americans over 65 have the disease with a new case diagnosed every 70 seconds. Millions more are affected as caregivers.

Miami-based author and speaker Zo A Lewis, M.D., FACP, asserts we all know someone with this disease, or we will soon. She wrote, “I Hope They Know…The Essential Handbook on Alzheimer’s Disease and Care”, ISBN #978-1-60264-177-8, (soft cover) published in 2008 by Virtualbookworm Publishing. Her credentials offer expertise spanning from the primary care diagnosis to the final stages where hospice services are used. A career internist and hospice medical director in Boston and Miami, her daily work gave her the insight for the book.

Dr. Lewis was a faculty speaker at the National Council on Aging Conference this past March and noted, “If those who are in the field of aging and healthcare sectors are still not up to speed, we need a massive campaign from the ground up to educate Americans about how to access resources that will help, particularly if it impacts their dwindling personal finances.” She also noted, “Families caring for those with AD simply run out of money. When the money dries up, then the burden is passed onto the state and federal governments for aid, so in the long run, we simply can’t afford to ignore the fundamental need for basic education about this disease at the time of diagnosis.”

The TODAY SHOW health segment and, web-based reports cited her book in a feature discussing “Alzheimer’s patients and the risk to offspring, “last October. AARP’s Harry Moody and faculty speakers from the National Alzheimer’s Association have praised her public outreach. The book has received high marks in the field of allied health professions, nursing, art and music therapy and caregiver organizations worldwide. The book is a listed resource with the National Alzheimer’s Association with the Green Field Library. Her work on dementia and hospice care has been recognized by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Dr. Zo A. Lewis, an Alzheimer’s education activist, cites treatment and comprehensive care information should be given early on to all family members, preferably at the moment of diagnosis. She is creating a nonprofit startup, “Hope Through Knowledge” that would allow third parties to distribute her book for free, giving families and patients the earliest opportunity to create responsible plans for their future. “Without comprehensive planning, healthcare and other related costs involved in the care of those with Alzheimer’s disease could sky rocket,” Dr. Lewis warns. “It makes sense third parties motivated to contain their costs would sponsor efforts that provide information and resources to families as soon as they are diagnosed.” The Spanish translation of her book is in editing and she wants to offer the book in Russian, Chinese, French Creole and Portuguese. “All cultural groups are affected and families need language specific material at the time of diagnosis they can all read and share.”

The author, Zo A Lewis, MD, FACP, DAAHPM, is an elected fellow to the American College of Physicians, a Diplomat of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and a former Harvard Medical School Clinical Instructor of Medicine. Her website is dedicated to “hope through knowledge,” encouraging the dissemination of information to practitioners and families regarding end-of-life care issues and Alzheimer’s disease. She is producer and host of hospice radio on blogtalkradio.

Zo A Lewis, MD, FACP