Resources in East TN for those living with Alzheimer’s

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – While investigators in Knox County search for a missing elderly man with a history of dementia, we looked into the resources and ways you can protect a loved one from becoming lost.

Jackie Harrison, 77, was separated from his family on Sunday night at the Walmart in Halls.

Anyone with information on where he might be is asked to call the Knox County Sheriff’s Office at 865-215-2243.

According to Alzheimer’s Tennessee, more than 110,000 people in our state live with Alzheimer’s disease. Advocates say the first step to protect your loved one from straying is asking for help.

“One of the best things a caregiver can do is to be educated about things that might happen as the disease progresses and be prepared ahead of time, as opposed to having to deal with something in hindsight,” said Amanda Armstrong, Director of Development for Alzheimer’s Tennessee.

Educational videos referencing everything from communication to home safety is available here through Alzheimer’s Tennessee’s Caregiver Academy.

Advocates also suggest enrolling seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia into a senior adult day service program. Alzheimer’s Tennessee operates the Howard Circle of Friends which runs 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information you can call 865-544-6288.

Armstrong says there are devices that can be worn that have GPS capabilities, as well as MedicAlert IDs, “Doing safety measures in the home is another way.”

We checked with the Office on Aging through the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee about available resources.

“It’s definitely a hard conversation to have. Families struggle with that all the time, knowing when to allow someone as much independence as possible and when they really need that extra care and assistance,” said Dottie Lyvers, Director of the Office on Aging.

Lyvers says the Daily Living Center, an adult day care program, is one way a senior can continue living independently. The Daily Living Center operates from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information you can call 865-689-8412.

Their Connecting Hearts program helps with companionship to those who have been identified as extremely socially isolated.

“I think so many people don’t know that there is help out there. Just start reaching out for help. I think that’s the first key,” said Lyvers.

To connect with the right resource for your or your loved one, call the Office on Aging at 865-524-2786.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can always call 2-1-1 or Alzheimer’s Tennessee 24-hour hotline at 1-800-259-4283.

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