Facing a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, or the prospect of caring for someone suffering from it, can be terrifying for LGBT elders. Fortunately, resources and a support group of others living the same experience is available.

Those resources and information about the group will be presented at an upcoming Lunch & Learn workshop hosted by the LGBT Health Resource Center and the Alzheimer’s Association’s Greater Maryland Chapter. The workshop will be held at Chase Brexton Health Care’s Mount Vernon Center (1111 North Charles Street) on Tuesday, September 13th from noon to 1:30 pm.

We asked Junnell Daniels, education coordinator with the Alzheimer’s Association and the presenter of the Lunch & Learn workshop, to share a few resources for those coping with Alzheimer’s disease.

What effects can Alzheimer’s have that are unique to the LGBT community?

The effects of Alzheimer’s that are unique to the LGBT community include the increased need to plan for the future, and the ability to access quality health care and find support. Regardless of your family of choice, it is important to create an advance directive to ensure that your wishes are followed. In the absence of advance directives, treatment and care decisions will be the responsibility of the person’s spouse or blood relative, who may not make the decisions you would want.

If you’re looking for additional services, either in home or a facility, disclosing your sexuality can be a decision that you have to consider. To whom and when you disclose your sexual orientation and/or gender identity is a very personal choice. You may worry that service providers will respond negatively to your LGBT identity. Remember to trust yourself and make sure you’re comfortable with what you share.

What aspects of coping with Alzheimer’s disease are hardest for the individual diagnosed with it?

Alzheimer’s affects everyone differently, so the person living with the disease may feel that one part may be challenging, while someone else experiences a different challenge. Often, we hear that people struggle with disclosing the warning signs of Alzheimer’s to their community of support. What aspects of the disease are hardest for that person’s friends, family, and loved ones?

The disease changes the person to the point that family, friends, and loved ones feel like they will no longer be the person that they once knew because of the symptoms, and therefore experience anticipatory grief. Friends, family, and loved ones may experience strong feelings of loneliness, stress and feeling overwhelmed with daily care giving and the challenges that come up because of the symptoms of the disease. They may feel reluctant to accept the numerous free resources and support available because of fear of discrimination and/or a lack of support. It is important to know that the Alzheimer’s Association is available to help anyone facing the demands of care giving and provide free information and support.

What resources are available specifically to help LGBT individuals affected by Alzheimer’s, or caring for someone who is?

The LGBT Health Resource Center hosts an Alzheimer’s Support Group designed for LGBT individuals and/or their caregivers on the fourth Wednesday of each month from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Chase Brexton Health Care’s Mt. Vernon Center. You can also visit the Alzheimer’s Association website at Alz.org or call our 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900; the helpline is available in over 200 languages and all calls are confidential. The Association also offers free care consultations, educational programs, and community events. t

To attend or receive more info on this upcoming Lunch and Learn workshop, RSVP to lgbt@chasebrexton.org or call 410-837-2050 x1049. For more about the LGBT Health Resource Center’s Alzhemier’s support group, visit Chasebrexton.org/LGBTQsupport.

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