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AGEWISE: Helping a loved one with dementia
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AGEWISE: Helping a loved one with dementia

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Q: I am a primary caregiver for my father who is in the early stages of dementia. Can you refer me to educational opportunities that will help me learn more about his diagnosis and how to care for him?

Answer: Learning about dementia in the early stages and being proactive about educational opportunities is a great strategy for learning to cope early on and managing the journey ahead. The upcoming 2021 ACAP Caregiver Symposium would be an excellent opportunity to learn more about a diagnosis of dementia and get connected with a network of educational resources.

ACAP is a national nonprofit organization based in North Carolina that supports adult-child caregivers as they learn to care for aging parents along with themselves. Local chapters offer free monthly educational programs and hold an annual conference to address issues related to being a caregiver for an aging parent. The ACAP website, acapcommunity.org, also provides a wealth of information including podcasts, articles and book reviews. While the organization’s focus is on adult-child caregivers, ACAP programs are open to anyone who is interested.

The 2021 Caregiver Symposium is ACAP’s annual conference and will be held on Friday, Nov. 5 from 1-4:15 p.m. via Zoom. The event’s focus is “Caring and Coping: When a Loved One has Dementia.” The keynote speaker is Teepa Snow, one of the world’s leading educators and advocates for dementia and other forms of brain change.

Registration for the event is open now. For more information, or to sign-up visit acapcommunity.org/2021-caregiver-symposium.

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Q: What is the difference between monoclonal antibodies and the COVID-19 vaccine?

Answer: According to the CDC’s website, cdc.gov, vaccines against COVID-19, such as the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine, are designed to reduce a person’s chances of contracting COVID-19 and reduce the likelihood of severe illness and death if a person does get sick with COVID-19. Vaccines are used as a preventative measure for a person who is not actively sick with COVID-19.

Monoclonal antibody treatments (mAbs) are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful viruses but are used differently from, and do not replace vaccines. The FDA has given Emergency Use Authorization for monoclonal antibody treatments to be used to treat mild or moderate COVID-19 in certain high-risk patients, because they can help your immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus, making it more difficult for the virus to reproduce and cause harm. (fda.gov).

The Forsyth County Department of Public Health recently shared an easy-to-read graphic on their Facebook page (facebook.com/FCDPH) to help individuals identify whether they may be eligible for monoclonal antibody treatments and how to access them. If you are age 65 or older and weigh at least 80 pounds or more; are told by your doctor that you are high risk of a serious case of COVID-19; or are age 12 or older, weigh at least 80 pounds and have chronic kidney disease, heart or lung disease, BMI of 25 or greater, diabetes, immunosuppressive disease, or are pregnant you may qualify to receive monoclonal antibody treatments if you test positive for COVID-19.

Currently, the federal government is distributing antibody therapies at no cost to patients, but providers may charge a fee to administer the treatment. Individuals who qualify and are interested in receiving the treatment should contact their providers for specific questions about insurance coverage and cost.

For more information on how to access monoclonal antibody treatments against COVID-19, call the Combat COVID Monoclonal Antibodies Call Center at 1-877-332-6585 (English) or 1-877-366-0310 (Spanish).

AgeWise is a weekly column compiled by staff of Senior Services Inc., a nonprofit organization in Winston-Salem. If you have a question, email agewise@seniorservicesinc.org or mail to Senior Services, 2895 Shorefair Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27105.

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