By JAMES BELL
The Cottonwood Extension District is looking to help give support and guidance to those caring for others suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia during two upcoming presentations.
From 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 10, Family and Community Wellness agent Monique Koerner will discuss the KSRE Alzheimer’s 101 program and from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct 11, Jill Wechsler, care coordinator at Clinkscales Elder Law Practice offers a presentation over the behaviors of dementia patients, along with a panel discussion with experienced caregivers.
Both events will be hosted in the Cottonwood Extension District office at 601 Main but will be offered online as well.
“We just hope to just raise some awareness over this topic as well as provide some education,” Koerner said.
For Koerner, knowing how difficult caring for someone suffering from degenerative disease hits close to home. Her father was diagnosed with Pick’s disease.
“I understand that concept of losing the person before you lose the person,” she said. “I also saw the toll that it took on my mother with losing him not once but twice. And so, I'm so happy to be a part of this and be able to provide some education and support to our community around this topic.”
For those close to someone with dementia, Koerner said the situation can be frustrating, as caregivers deal with out-of-the-ordinary behaviors for the person.
The panel featured in the dementia presentation will feature participants from A Different Mindset, a support group that meets online every second Thursday of the month at 2:30 p.m., led by Micki Armstrong.
Armstrong also has a personal connection to dementia. Her mother suffered from Alzheimer’s for 15 years.
Dementia is an all-encompassing term for many diseases, and all are welcome to join the group, she said.
“Every person is different,” she said. “My mother's reaction to certain things may not be the same as somebody else's mother. And so that's the frustrating part. Because there's no set therapy that's going to be the same for everybody.”
To sign up for the support group, email [email protected].
“It can be frustrating. You can feel very alone,” Armstrong said. “It can be just overwhelming at times. And so having people who have been in those shoes and who understand what you're going through is very, very beneficial.”
For the caregiver, self-care is important, and a supportive group can be help, she said.
“We know that if the caregiver doesn't take care of himself, that person could easily get sick themselves or even possibly pass away before the affected person does,” Armstrong said. “So, that's why we want to make sure that our caregivers are healthy and have an outlet to express their frustration and let them know that they're not alone in this in this journey.”
To register to attend the Cottonwood Extension District sessions in person or via Zoom, call (785) 628-9430.