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A team approach to Alzheimer's disease

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease.

We sat down with those from various fields who treat or assist patients and caregivers. They all agree it takes a team effort.

Dr. Terry Melvin, Partners in Care says, "It starts with the person who brings the person in who may be a caregiver and it goes from there."

Dr. Melvin says patients and family members shouldn't be afraid to discuss concerns with the doctor. If you think it, then you need to follow through.

Amy French, Mid-south Alzheimer's Association says, "Denial is a very common thing among people who have dementia, it is also very common among caregivers as well."

But, Amy says when you're in doubt it is important to reach out to that circle of care which includes social workers like Brooke Ross.

Her goal is to help families and caregivers alleviate stress and take a proactive approach.

Brooke Ross says, "That's identifying resources within your own family and neighborhood and church family that you may not be thinking of as people who can assist you."

Brooke says that help and assistance is crucial.

Thirty-five percent of caregivers for people with Alzheimer's or other dementia report their health has gotten worse due to care responsibilities That's compared to 19% of caregivers for older people without dementia.

As with any medical condition, Amy French says, "Early detection, early diagnosis, early intervention that is the key to monitoring any chronic illness and it's certainly true with Alzheimer's and dementia."

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