Alert

Published on July 20, 2017

A new resource for Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers

Longtime UNC family medicine researcher Philip Sloane, MD, MPH, wrote a book that employs the latest clinical evidence to help those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Philip Sloane, MD, MPH, researcher and professor at the UNC School of Medicine has authored The Alzheimer’s Medical Advisor: A Caregiver’s Guide, which is available July 15. Written in partnership with colleagues at UNC and Duke University, the book addresses the many and varied issues caregivers encounter in caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, including medical conditions, behaviors, the health care system, and caregiver burnout.

The book is based on the latest clinical knowledge and scientific research on the care of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Much of caregiving involves managing or deciding what to do about medical and behavioral issues, so a major portion of the book is devoted to these issues. In addition, it includes basic facts about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and offers practical guidance when conferring with doctors and nurses, when visiting hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted-living residences, and during advanced stages of the disease.

“This book provides a centralized text for family members and other caregivers who are struggling to do the right thing,” said Sloane, who is the Elizabeth and Oscar Goodwin Distinguished Professor of Family Medicine. “We wanted to create an accessible resource to address the most common medical and behavioral challenges you may come across.”

Alzheimer’s is now the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 5 million people living with the condition and nearly 15 million families providing unpaid care. These everyday tasks take a toll on a caregiver’s well-being. Thirty-five percent of Alzheimer’s or dementia caregivers report that their health has worsened because of their responsibilities, compared to only 19 percent of those caring for an individual without dementia.

Chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s and other dementias require longer-term, possibly ever-increasing assistance. Cognitive impairment and memory disorders lead to new, different, and often challenging behaviors. In addition, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s often means helping them deal with other med­ical problems that are sometimes difficult to recognize.

The text addresses 54 medical conditions that caregivers often encounter while providing care. Each medical condition is presented in an easy-to-follow two-page segment that provides basic facts about the condition, signs that indicate a possible emergency, tips on providing relief in the home, other related issues to watch out for and safety tips for the caregiver. “The Alzheimer’s Medical Advisor also recognizes self-care as a crucial issue for family caregivers,” said Sloane. “Many caregivers are so dedicated that they can burn out or get sick; so to help then strike a balance we’ve included a chapter dedicated to self-care, as well as tips and reminders along the way.” 

Sloane is a geriatrician with more than 35 years of experience managing and researching issues related to older people. Much of his research focuses on Alzheimer’s disease and related cognitive disorders. Among his many awards are the Academic Award from the National Institute on Aging and the Pioneer Award from the national office of the Alzheimer's Association. He has authored over 300 publications, including 18 books, co-founded the Carolina Alzheimer's Network, and co-directs the Program on Aging, Disability, and Long-Term Care at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at UNC. 

The Alzheimer’s Medical Advisor, published by Sunrise River Press, is set for release on July 15, 2017.

This piece was written by Heather Wilson in the department of family medicine.

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