LEBANON, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s a game of corn hole that’s fun and therapeutic.
71-year-old Wendy Forbes has Alzheimer’s Disease and her wife Christine Pagano is her caregiver. They visit the Lebanon Senior Center for encouragement and socialization.
“This social group has been such a missing piece for so long and we are so delighted to participate,” Pagano of Killingly said.
New statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association show that support is vital and growing in need. Here in Connecticut, there are 80,000 patients living with Alzheimer’s and 150,000 caregivers. Caregivers are reporting increased anxiety and emotional stress.
“We have folks that are being diagnosed sooner and younger,” Liz Shilosky, a volunteer with the association’s Connecticut chapter, said, explaining the rise in emotional issues.
Forbes and Pagano speak with Shilosky twice a month during a GAP group, which stands for Giving Alzheimer’s Purpose.
Separately and together, they ask questions and share concerns.
“Getting them out, speaking with others, taking action, they feel like they’re taking action in the disease process,” Shilosky said.
“Alzheimer’s is very isolating,” Forbes said.
So, Forbes makes every moment count with Pagano and their son, who was only 15-years-old when she was diagnosed.
“For Mother’s Day, we got a mom and son tattoo,” Forbes said. “I need to stay alive and coherent for my wife and my son because I promised him I would.”
They take it day by day, relying on exercise, friendship and a loving community at the center.
“She has something to offer other people and people are glad she shows-up,” Pagano said.
Advocates are asking for government assistance for these unpaid caregivers and also help with medication costs.
Click here to see the new statistics.
If you are a caregiver in need of assistance, call the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24-hour help line at 800-272-3900.