The numbers are shocking. Almost six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s today and in 30 years, that number is expected to rise to 14 million. After a family member is diagnosed, they often become the most important individual in that family, with many loved ones stepping in as caregivers. But caregiving can take its toll quickly and before you know it, the person giving care is overwhelmed and exhausted.
Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources is hosting the popular six-part series “Oh My Gosh – Now What?” to support individuals with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, families, caregivers and others focusing on the initial journey of memory loss. Attendees will learn the warning signs and symptoms, how to manage behaviors, and disease progression. Participants will also be provided education about legal concerns, financial issues and local resources available.
All sessions will be held virtually on Wednesdays from noon-1 p.m. Session are free and open to the public, but advanced registration is required. Register online or by calling the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) at 253-798-4600. People can attend one or all of the discussions. Sessions are free and open to all.
The schedule for sessions includes:
- Sept. 22 – “What is Dementia? What are the warning signs?”
- Sept. 29 – “How does the disease progress? What should I expect?”
- Oct. 6 – “How do I start the conversation? How do I cope with the shock?”
- Oct. 13 – “What are the typical moods and behaviors? How do I manage them?”
- Oct. 20 – “How do I pay for care? What are the legal things I should do?”
- Oct. 27 – “Where can I turn for help? What are the resources I can rely on?”
Each session will be led by case managers from the ADRC, Kris Sawyers-Dowling and Jessica Girard, who specialize in providing practical help to individuals and families coping with memory loss.
“About 500,000 more Americans are diagnosed with dementia every year,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources manager. “Most family caregivers are unprepared to manage the daily challenges that take place in supporting someone suffering with dementia. Learning how to provide proper care for your family member, while maintaining care for yourself, are necessary components to managing such a difficult situation.”
While adults typically keep an eye out for changes in behavior or memory loss in their parents, older adults may worry about remembering names, appointments, directions and even what they had for breakfast this morning. These memory concerns may not mean someone has Alzheimer’s or dementia, but it is wise to be aware and know the warning signs of this devastating disease. For more information call the ADRC at 253-798-4600.
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Kari Moore, Pierce County Communications
Matt Santelli, Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources