We offer a number of services for our patients and their families. Caregiver support services for family members and loved ones are available at our 4 locations.
We view caregiver services as an integral part of our mission. Complementing excellent medical care, our focus on caregivers affirms that neurocognitive disorders impact not just the patient, but everyone involved in care and support. Among the programs for caregivers and families are:
- Social services. Professionals are available to work with caregivers to identify needs and develop strategies for care over the course of the disease.
- Education classes and workshops to offer information on brain disorders and their profound impact on the individual, caregiver and family.
- Caregiver well being programs. Programs to help caregivers maintain their physical and emotional well being.
- Support groups. A warm, welcoming setting in which to share information and experiences with others who understand the unique circumstances of caring for a loved one with a memory disorder.
- Library. Hundreds of books, DVDs, online and other resources on a broad range of subjects related to caregiving for a neurocognitive disorder.
- Special events to provide support and hope and to build a sense of community among caregivers and families.
Families are challenged by supporting a loved one with a neurocognitive or movement disorder. They strive to rise to the occasion, assuming the role of caregiver, partner, advocate or guide to provide support for the patient over the course of the disease.
But who provides care and support for these family caregivers? We recognize that caregivers suffer tremendous stress. While coping with change and loss — in relationships, responsibilities, dreams for the future — caregivers can become overwhelmed, anxious or depressed. From diagnosis throughout the course of the illness, they benefit from guidance and reliable information on where to turn for help.
Frontotemporal Dementia | a formidable adversary
Donald Hines serves his country.
Tall and strapping, with a larger-than-life personality and a voice that commanded respect, Donald Hines embodied the virtues of the military man he was: courageous, resilient and able to take charge in a crisis. Outgoing and good-natured, he was happy to help when friends and family had a stalled car or a clogged drain.
Late in life, Mr. Hines, a veteran of three wars (World War II, Korea and Vietnam) met his most formidable adversary: Frontotemporal dementia (FTD).
If a physician isn’t familiar with the disease, it can be difficult to diagnose. “Patients referred here almost always have another diagnosis, which can include Alzheimer’s disease — the most frequent misdiagnosis, stroke, midlife crisis and psychiatric illnesses such as depression,” says Gabriel Léger, MD, who started the FTD clinic at the Las Vegas location of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
Mr. Hines’ disease made him irritable, short-tempered, impulsive and less sociable. “It was very difficult for us to see him become a person we didn’t know. He wasn’t like my dad anymore,” says his daughter Gina.
“When he spoke too loudly in church and I shushed him, he told me to shut up. He could be loving one minute and sharp the next,” says his wife, Virginia.
“When a family member starts to show uncharacteristic behavior, it’s a good idea for a spouse or adult child to keep a list of examples to show the doctor,” advises Sarah Banks, PhD, a Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health neuropsychologist.
Mr. Hines was fortunate in 2009, about a year after his family first noticed changes in his behavior, they took him to the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, where his MRI showed significant atrophy in the frontal lobe. Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health patients with suspected FTD undergo a thorough individualized evaluation, which may include neurological and neuropsychological evaluations and brain imaging. Treatment can include medications along with physical and speech therapy.
The center offers programs for families, including support groups to help caregivers deal with the challenges of caring for a family member whose personality has changed. The Hines family appreciated the support of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, especially after another member of the family, son Steve Hines, developed a rare devastating neurodegenerative disease called Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease at 61; he passed away a few months later.
There is hope on the horizon for FTD patients. Researchers are making progress in developing potential therapies for FTD, and Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health will conduct clinical trials of these agents as they become available.