‘Get the help you need’; Hope Philanthropies offers telehealth services for Alzheimer’s patients

Stock image, St. George News

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Everyone has forgotten something. We’ve all lost our keys, misplaced the remote or let an appointment slip our mind. But when memory loss affects daily life, such as the ability to drive or go shopping, it may be sign of something more serious, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“The effects are just ravaging for the sufferer and their families,” said Jeff Chance, president of the Utah nonprofit Hope Philanthropies, adding that those afflicted and their caregivers are just losing their lives inch by inch.

Chance told St. George News that many are frustrated, looking for answers and need help immediately. 

“People don’t know where to go. … It’s a very complicated disease,” he said. “They need help now, especially in this time where face-to-face contact is being limited.”

More than 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s, and the rate of those suffering has been increasing dramatically in recent years. By 2050, an estimated 13.8 million people age 65 and older will be afflicted unless something can be done. And in a new and disturbing trend, the number of cases of Alzheimer’s disease for those under 65 is also growing.

After witnessing the inspiring dedication of spouses and caregivers who are committed to their loved ones despite the difficulties and frustration, Chance and his former employer at Northwest Pathology started Hope Philanthropies as a way to help people dealing with Alzheimer’s and other forms of age-related cognitive decline.

For them, “hope” means “helping others through personal engagement,” and Chance said they are all about helping others through the application of scientific discovery. They accomplish this in two ways: They fund research into the disease, and they fund the application of that research for people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Hope Philanthropies recently launched a virtual consultative lifestyle program for Alzheimer’s disease early intervention and to help families now.

“It’s a telehealth based education and intervention service. We help people via the telephone who are suffering from cognitive decline or those who are worried about it,” Chance said. “It’s something that you can do from the privacy of your home and still get the help you need.”

The HOPE Academy is administered through ADx Healthcare, a HIPAA-compliant sponsor-partner of Hope Philanthropies. It can be a good option for people isolated from the community for health concerns.

How the HOPE Academy works

It is simple to participate. To begin, a person fills out a lifestyle index questionnaire, and then by telephone, they meet with a registered dietitian for a consultation and cognitive assessment.

It’s mainly nutrition-based and can be done from the comfort of a person’s home. Once the evaluation is complete, the client is then paired off with a certified health care coach for more specialized guidance during individual coaching sessions.

“It’s a personal, one-on-one engagement,” Chance said, adding that the health care coach helps them to implement the recommendations that they receive during their dietitian consultation.

“There are generally three factors that health care professionals say affect cognitive health: one is genetics, one is environment and the other is lifestyle. Healthy living is not only good for your heart and your body, but it is literally good for the brain.”

For those who are already experiencing some cognitive loss, the coach can speak with both the client and their caregiver at the same time.

Trying to find solutions for a complicated condition

Chance said that as a caregiver for his wife and two children who suffer from  muscular dystrophy, he is especially concerned about the difficulties caregivers face, and he is sensitive and aware of the challenges facing people in the caregiving role. He said doctors struggle with answers for Alzheimer’s disease today because it is such a complicated condition with varied symptoms and no cure.

While most of Hope Philanthropies’ attention is focused on helping alleviate the suffering of people with cognitive decline, he said they are also extremely interested in understanding the genetic component of the disease, and they actively support the work Of Dr. Keoni Kauwe’s lab at Brigham Young University.

Kauwe’s research focuses on innovative approaches to characterize the genetic architecture of Alzheimer’s disease. He is a leader in genetics research whose work is funded by grants from various organizations such as the National Institute on Aging, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Charleston Conference on Alzheimer’s disease – and help from Hope Philanthropies.

Kauwe was previously scheduled to give a seminar at the Dixie Center St. George discussing his research; however, the event was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chance said the seminar will still be held at a later date when the situation calms down, and a benefit concert for Hope Philanthropies featuring local singing artist Rachel Cox is still scheduled for Nov. 6 in St. George.

Currently, Hope Philanthropies is in the process of raising funds to be able to offer the Hope Academy program to as many people as possible. In addition, they provide education and training to employers of how to help address cognitive decline in the workplace. 

Hope Philanthropies is 501(c)(3) nonprofit that relies on donations to provide their services and to support Kauwe’s research.

If you know of someone who needs immediate help, the Hope Academy is available now. Chance can be reached by phone at 801-403-8043 or by email at [email protected]. More information about Hope Philanthropies can be found online.

Written by ANDREW PINCKNEY, St. George News.

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