For most people the holiday season is a joyous time to spend with family and friends. For the 94,000 people in Minnesota who live with Alzheimer's, this time of year is different.
"During the holiday season people who suffer from Alzheimer's go through a really challenging time," said Kendra Lund, program manager of the Alzheimer's Association Minnesota-North Dakota. "This comes from a change in routine. Victims often see a struggle with relationships, day-to-day activities, and feel very overwhelmed."
The Alzheimer's Association describes the condition as a brain disease that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Alzheimer's prevents parts of a cell's factory from performing well. As the damage spreads, cells lose their ability to perform, causing incurable changes to the brain.
"I got into this organization because of a personal connection," Lund said. "I was in the third or fourth grade and I went to my grandma's house with my family. My grandma had asked me three or four times what grade I was in. I looked at my mom and thought my grandma was going crazy. Over the years I saw it progress."
This area's regional office for the Alzheimer's Association is in Fergus Falls. However, in Alexandria a support group meets the fourth Thursday of each month, with the exception of this month. These meetings take place at the Douglas County Public Works building at 1:30 p.m.
"The meetings are mostly for the people affected by someone close to them with Alzheimer's," Lund said. "We want to provide a place for people to meet and get help that walk down the same road."
The Alzheimer's Association has been in operation for 38 years and has regional locations all around the country. It has a 24/7 helpline for people who would like to talk to specialists that offer information and referrals. The helpline answers more than 300,000 calls a year in over 200 different languages.
"Our organization provides community and family education," Lund said. "We like to focus some of our efforts on making sure the reach our services provide are available for everybody in the community who need them."
The Alzheimer's Association goes the extra mile for people who are seeking more than a phone call.
"For people that want individual attention and would like to sit down with our specialists, we have what we like to call care consultation," Lund said. "This is for people to not only help with the emotion that Alzheimer's can put on a family, but also we are here to educate people on what it is and how to help other family members going through this process."
To learn more about the services provided, visit the Alzheimer's Association website www.alz.org or call the helpline at 800-272-3900. Friends and family can reach out to the Alzheimer's Association for more information about how to make the the holiday season less stressful for those who are suffering.
"People need to understand that the holiday season is very stressful for people with Alzheimer's," Lund said. "Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help."