Alzheimer’s Association launches Direct Connect Referral Program to WNC health care professionals

Press release from the Alzheimer’s Association, Western Carolina Chapter:

Health care providers can now get resources and support for their Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers through the Direct Connect Referral Program. This free service is designed to work together with physicians and other healthcare professionals to ensure that individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias receive the appropriate care and resources needed to improve their quality of life.

Developed in order to help provide a holistic approach to patient care, this program is the first of its kind in the Alzheimer’s community in all 49 central and western North Carolina counties for which the Alzheimer’s Association – Western Carolina Chapter serves. Physicians and healthcare professionals at 75 medical centers and hospitals throughout these 49 counties now have an opportunity to participate in the program.

“I have found the Direct Connect Referral Program through the Alzheimer’s Association to be an important resource for the caregivers of my patients at all stages of dementia,” said Karen Byrd, GNP-BC, Nurse Practitioner at Novant Health Neurosciences – Forsyth Medical Center, Memory Care Clinic. “The caregivers are often so isolated that one of the most valuable benefits offered by this program is just having a person who understands the challenges of being a dementia caregiver listen and offer practical solutions. I recommend the program to all of my patients and their caregivers.”

Currently, only 33 percent of seniors age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease are aware of their diagnosis. Studies have found that one of the reasons physicians do not diagnose Alzheimer’s — or do not disclose a diagnosis — is a lack of time and resources to provide care planning. However, a disclosed diagnosis is necessary to implement care planning, a crucial element in improving outcomes for the individual.

Care planning has many benefits for the patient and their family, including:

Allows newly diagnosed individuals and their caregivers to learn about medical and non-medical treatments, clinical trials and support services available in the community — resulting in a higher quality of life for those living with the disease.
Leads to fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits, and better medication management.
Contributes to better management of other conditions that can be complicated by Alzheimer’s.
A new Medicare billing code – known as G0505 – now allows clinicians to be reimbursed for providing care planning to cognitively impaired individuals. In using this code as part of the Direct Connect Referral Program, clinicians will have the time and resources to provide a comprehensive set of care planning services to people with cognitive impairment and their caregivers. All that is involved is completing a one-page, HIPAA compliant form and faxing or scanning it to the Alzheimer’s Association – Western Carolina Chapter office.

“As we celebrate National Family Caregivers Month, we are thrilled about launching our new Direct Connect Referral Program that provides an easy way to connect a doctor’s patients with our organization’s care and support services,” said Katherine L. Lambert, CEO of the Western Carolina Chapter. “We are deeply committed to supporting the family of people on their journey of diagnosis and treatment, while also adding value to the efforts of physicians’ offices. Our Direct Connect Referral Program is a win-win resource for all.”

Physicians and healthcare professionals interested in learning more about this program should contact Redia Baxter, Community Outreach & Education Manager at rbaxter@alz.org or call 980-498-7732.

Additional Facts and Figures: Alzheimer’s

One in 10 people age 65 and older (10 percent) has Alzheimer’s dementia.
More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, a number estimated to grow to as many as 16 million by year 2050.
Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.
African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites.
Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites.
About the Alzheimer’s Association:
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s.

About the Alzheimer’s Association – Western Carolina Chapter:
The Western Carolina Chapter provides patient and family services, information and referral, education, and advocacy in the 49 central and western North Carolina counties that serves over 100,000 people currently living with Alzheimer’s disease in these counties. We provide a variety of services including a 24/7 Helpline, support groups, educational programs, and MedicAlert®. We offer opportunities to get involved and to make a difference. For more information about Alzheimer’s disease or the Alzheimer’s Association Western Carolina Chapter, visit alz.org/northcarolina or call (800) 272-3900. For the latest news and updates, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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About Susan Foster
Susan Foster is a clinical psychologist who moved to Asheville from the Boston area in 2013. She started with Xpress as a freelance health and wellness writer and is now the wellness editor. You can email her at sfoster@mountainx.com and follow her on Twitter @susanjfosterphd. Follow me @susanjfosterphd

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