To assist in the understanding of difficult dementia behaviors, a free workshop for family caregivers will be offered 10 a.m. - noon, Oct. 24, at the Oakhurst Lutheran Church.
This workshop, provided by the Valley Caregiver Resource Center, is not open to providers, volunteers or patients. It is given to caregivers only. Attendees will learn how to better understand what dementia is and what it’s not, along with practical tips for coping with associated behaviors like aggression, agitation, hallucinations, paranoia, repetitive speech, and wandering.
They will come away with a better understanding of their role and what they can do to make their lives more manageable, which will have a domino effect, impacting their patients in a positive way.
So who are the caregivers?
A caregiver, sometimes referred to as an informal caregiver, is an unpaid individual (spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor) assisting in daily living activities, such as feeding, bathing, toileting, and changing.
Caregivers monitor the individual suffering from the illness 24 hours-a-day. Many have never been exposed to Alzheimers (and its most common symptom, dementia) and cannot begin to imagine the difficulties faced while caring for someone who was once able and willing to provide for themselves.
Carol Breit, an Ahwahnee resident, is painfully aware of the importance of having support, of knowing you’re not alone, of hearing feedback on how other caregivers deal with troubling behaviors their patients may exhibit due to an illness.
Many years ago, Breit’s grandmother had dementia. Because she died before there was an area support group available, Breit felt alone, overwhelmed, riddled with guilt, and helpless throughout the entire experience.
Breit has been coordinating the Mountain Area caregiver support group for about 25 years. The group meets the second and fourth Tuesday of the month, from 10-11:30 a.m. at the Oakhurst Lutheran Church. She said she runs into former caregivers around town, who still comment that they don’t know what they would have done without the support they received.
According to alz.org, more than five million Americans live with Alzheimers today, with someone developing dementia every 66 seconds. As the population ages, it is projected that this number could rise as high as 16 million by 2050.
As of 2017, 15 million were providing unpaid care for someone living with Alzheimers and other dementias, and the care of an aging parent was the primary situation for mid-life caregivers.
Due to limited space, pre-registration is required for the caregiver workshop. Call Valley Caregiver Resource Center, (559) 224-9154, or (800) 541-8614 to reserve a spot; or Carol Breit, (559) 683-4045.