Remembering who they serve
Westside-based regional chapter of Alzheimer’s Association stays active
Help for Alzheimer's victims can be found on the Westside, at 2315 Bott Ave.
Barbara Caudle, regional director of the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, just wishes more people knew about it.
Her office gets 15 to 25 inquiries a week, but out of about 6,000 people believed to have the memory-loss disease in the agency's four-county area, “I think we just get the tip of the iceberg,” Caudle said in a recent interview.
“A lot of families don't understand the symptoms, or they hear about dementia from their doctors and don't realize Alzheimer's is the main cause of dementia. It just breaks my heart when I hear someone say, 'I wish I knew about you. I lost my mom three years ago.'”
Located on the Westside for the past six years, the association operates out of a small, low-key facility, manned by Caudle and two other staffers. The counties served are El Paso, Teller, Park and Elbert. The Westside location offers proximity to other agencies for the elderly, primarily Silver Key a block away, noted Caudle, who has been with the Colorado Chapter 14 years in all and formerly headed up the Southern Colorado region from Pueblo.
On a regular basis, Caudle gives numerous presentations, works with about a dozen support groups that focus on different stages of Alzheimer's and helps individual care-givers with techniques that have the best chance of success with individuals suffering from the disease's gradual mental degeneration (the average duration is about eight years.
At the association office, at no cost, people can get information, receive referrals, browse its library and learn about training for caregivers. People are welcome to call the office at 266-8773 or refer to the website: alz.org/co.
The Colorado chapter's website also offers a 24/7 help line: 1-800-272-3900.
“We don't diagnose here,” Caudle pointed out, noting that people should see a doctor and/or neurologist if they are deeply concerned. However, memory loss is not always a sure sign of Alzheimer's. “People in their 50s and 60s are a little more forgetful,” she said. “We tell them that.”
But if a diagnosis indicates Alzheimer's, the association is ready to start directing such families toward classes and support groups. Meeting with others in the same situation can help ease the strain and also be a way to share information, Caudle said.
She herself had a grandmother who had dementia in the 1980s. This started an interest in the subject, and later she decided to make it her career focus.
Association costs are covered through grants and fundraising. A major annual event is a “Memory Walk” in America the Beautiful Park.
Westside Pioneer article