Helping loved ones with Alzheimer's Disease

By Erika Mahoney

March 22, 2013 Updated Mar 22, 2013 at 11:34 PM EST

Binghamton, NY (WBNG BInghamton) For the past 12 years, Helen Bannon has been working with people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia at Willow Point Nursing Home.

Bannon said she loves her job and the people with whom she works.

"They talk to you, sometimes they don't make sense, but they love us, they really do," Bannon said. "They think we are their family most of the time."

But she also said it's a challenging job. Over the past 12 years, she has seen more and more people with Alzheimer's.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 5 million people have Alzheimer's disease in the United States.

The association also reports 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another dementia in the United States.

In an effort to help those who are caring for loved ones with the disease in their homes, Faith in Action of Broome County Council of Churches is teaming up with the Alzheimer's Association, Central New York chapter, to recruit volunteer caregivers.

"We are recruiting volunteers who would like to make a difference in people's lives," said Joanna Kays, Faith in Action's program director.

The volunteers provide care in the home of the family caregiver, doing arts and crafts or playing board games. This allows the primary caregiver time for their own needs.

"Caregivers are out there everyday of their life, providing care 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year and this disease is an emotional impact and a financial impact that's different than any other disease process," Alzheimer's Association Central New York Associate Program Director Jessie Cornell said. "So we need to step up in the community and support those individuals who are providing care."

Bannon said the program is an important initiative.

"That's a great idea," Bannon said. "It's very stressful. I can go home and I don't have to deal with it. But the people who are dealing with it at home, they need a break."

A two-part volunteer training is scheduled for interested volunteers on Thursday April 18 and Thursday April 25 at the Northern Broome Senior Center in Whitney Point.

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