Apr 02, 2024

Dementia/Alzheimer's workshops to address early detection, caregivers

Posted Apr 02, 2024 9:45 AM

Hays Post

The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will continue to increase as the size of the older adult population grows, according to research reported by K-State Research and Extension.

The Ellis County Cottonwood Extension District in partnership with Clinkscales Elder Law Practice, Hays, and local caregiver support group "A Different Mindset," will present a two-day dementia and Alzheimer's workshop April 10 and 11.

The first day will focus on information about the incurable disease, early detection, and better brain health.

Losing track of your keys is not necessarily an early sign of dementia.

"We all forget things once in a while," said Monique Koerner, extension agent for Family and Community Wellness. "We're busy. We have a lot on our minds.

 "But if we on a regular basis are misplacing things or are not able to retrace our steps and remember where we've been, that might be something to pay attention to," Koerner said. "It's important to visit with your primary care provider about those things." 

Exercise is the key to better brain health and better health overall, she added.

"One of my favorite sayings is 'the best exercise for the brain is exercise,'" Koerner said.

"We're talking about little kids who can't sit still and need to get up and move. Babies that are left in the crib, their brain development is affected. They've got to be able to move their body and the same thing goes throughout our lifespan. In fact, we have research that shows if we are sedentary for long periods of time, it will increase our risk for dementia." 

Jill Wechsler, a social worker and care coordinator for Clinkscales office and "A Different Mindset," will talk during the second evening about recognizing different behaviors evolving in people affected by dementia. 

"We want to just help the caregivers provide care with unique ways to communicate with those people, and utilize different responses to unwanted actions," Wechsler said. 

She will also discuss different ways for caregivers to take care of themselves "so they can successfully keep that person at home with them longer. If you're not well, if you're tired and cranky, it's going to affect the way you take care of that person."

Although not addressed in this workshop, Clinkscales offers resources for how to get your finances in order for a chronic illness such as Alzheimer's or dementia which will affect a patient and their family long term.

"I attend a lot of Alzheimer's trainings and they're always talking about new research and new medication trials going on, so I want everybody to have hope that there is going to be a cure some day," Wechsler said. 

The workshops will be presented via Zoom and in-person at the Hays Extension Office, 601 Main where light refreshments will be served.

Participants may attend one or both workshops.

To participate via Zoom, call the extension office at 785-628-9430 for a  link.