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The Voice of the Black Community


Alzheimerís and Related Dementias Community Summit
Published Wednesday, October 10, 2018
by Staff Reports

RALEIGH – “YOU ARE NOT ALONE!” was the theme at the Second Annual Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Community Summit last month.

Sponsored by Martin Street Baptist’s Health and Wellness Ministry, along with co-sponsor Central Carolina Black Nurses Council, the summit was held to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s, dementia and the community resources available before more than 100 participants from various churches, communities and civic organizations.

Alzheimer’s affected over 160,000 North Carolinians last year and is the sixth-leading cause of death. 

Dr. Goldie Byrd, founding director of The Center for Outreach in Alzheimer’s, Aging and Community Health (COAACH), spoke on “Understanding Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias:  A Growing Health Challenge.”  Her message included information on how the brain functions in a person with Alzheimer’s to research being done related to the disease and aging. She also stressed the importance of African-Americans participating in research. When we do not participate, drugs and other treatments being developed may not be effective for us.

Willetha King-Burnette, co-founder of the Institute for Family Caregiving and author of “Caregiver’s Secrets,” shared her story as a caregiver for her mother for over 20 years. Her No. 1 takeaway was that caregivers cannot do it alone.  You must take the time to care for yourself.  She advises to take every opportunity to learn what resources are available and to use them for your loved one.

Mark Philbrick, director of education and volunteer at Transitions LifeCare, discussed "Being Prepared When the End is Near." Although “death is the most inevitable fact of life,” it is one of the most difficult conversations to have.  He said there is a disconnect because the fear of death results in patients not talking about end-of-life issues with family. This also leads to no advanced care plan being in place and most don’t know their options. 

Philbrick said making one’s wishes known can reduce conflict and recommended to create an Advanced Directive NOW. Advance Directives are legal documents written in advance of serious illness that state your choices for health care or names someone to make those choices if you become incapacitated. 

There are two basic type of Advance Directives: health care power of attorney and the living will. The power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to name a person to make health care decisions for you.  It takes effect if you become unable to make your own decisions. There are no limitations to the power of attorney unless restrictions are placed when completing the documents.  It ends at the time of the person’s death or if the person again becomes able to make their own decisions. 

The living will Is a legal document providing written instructions that explains your wishes regarding your health care. It lets others know what treatments are acceptable in certain situations when a patient is not able to communicate their desires. Once the decision has been made to create an Advance Directive, remember to keep it in a safe place that is easily found.  Let others know where it can be found or give them copies. 



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