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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Phone Line Established for Patients with Alzheimers

The phone number 734-936-8803 connects those diagnosed with Alzheimers,their families and friends directly to services that will assist them. The line was established by University of Michigan Health Systems and leads patients to the U-M Memory Connection.

Patients frequently have to make lots of phone calls to get the information they want to know after being diagnosed with Alzheimers, and the situation is stressful enough without knowing who to turn to. Lots of time when patients call to get information they are directed to another phone number, and this cycle continues until they finally give up without any answers.

"We need to do a better job of helping our patients and families find their way," says Henry Paulson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Michigan Alzheimer's Disease Center and professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Medical School.

The U-M Memory connection informs patients of what they need to know. It designed to be a one stop destination for information about dementia services and memory loss. Memory loss services are then provided to patients from the line in an easy and non-stressful way, or at least that is what the U-M Memory Connection is aiming for. Services like the Silver Club Programs at U-M Geriatrics Center, community programs and social workers are provided to the patients. Patients can also be connected to research studies on different topics involving memory loss.

"This is a huge health problem that affects all of us. We need to do a better job of making the diagnosis but also implementing care … it can be very difficult for patients to navigate their way," Paulson says.

Patients call are answered by trained professional who has comprehensive knowledge about mild memory loss, Lewy Body disease, Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, and vascular dementia. The line is open to phone call Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, and patients who leave messages will be gotten to the next business day or sooner.

"Many people experience changes with memory as they age. Some changes are normal, but other changes could be a sign of memory loss and we know it is important to understand that difference. Our call center specialists can answer some of the difficult questions you may have at the time of a diagnosis and beyond, " says Cassie Starback, coordinator of the Michigan Alzheimer's Disease Center.

U-M Memory connection was put together by the U-M Dementia Consortium that was founded by the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease center. The composition of the consoritium includes various U-M departments, including Neurology, Geriatric Center, U-M School of Social work, U-M school of Public Health and local chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association.

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