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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

 

Conference offers connections for Alzheimer's caregivers





























Attendees visit the vendors' room at Tuesday's Adirondack Caregiver Forum at the Queensbury Hotel, which was sponsored by the Alzheimer's Association

Just after starting her keynote speech Tuesday, author Patti Kerr related a personal story about her mother, who had Alzheimer's disease.

"You need to talk to people who have really experienced what you are going through," Kerr told an audience of more than 100 at the Alzheimer's Association's 12th annual Adirondack Caregivers’ Forum at the Queensbury Hotel. "My mother kept going over to the television and hitting it with her shoe. I asked my friends, none of whom were dealing with a relative with Alzheimer's, and they just shrugged their shoulders."

Then, Kerr asked a friend who was taking care of a parent with the disease.

"She asked me what was on the TV when my mother hit it with the shoe, and I said, 'The news. My father likes to watch news shows,' " Kerr said. "My friend said, 'Change the channel,' and when I turned it to Lawrence Welk Show, she stopped doing it.

"That's the kind of thing only someone who has been through it would know," Kerr said.

It was that sort of specific advice that kept the audience focused on Kerr, whose mother and grandmother both had long-term Alzheimer's, resulting in her book, “I Love You, Who Are You: Loving and Caring for a Patient With Alzheimer’s.”

Kerr said having a relative with Alzheimer's is a journey that usually lasts between four and eight years, although she noted some patients live as long as 15 to 20 years.

She listed four important points for those just starting out on the journey:

  • Get an official diagnosis and find "the right doctor."
  • Get the family together to talk about the situation, no matter how difficult that might seem.
  • Get legal and financial issues in order.
  • Get support.

Kym Hance, program manager for Alzheimer’s Association Upstate New York Chapter, who coordinated the forum, said the support is especially important.

"That's why we are here," Hance said. "We want to connect people and help them support each other."

Hance said her group is setting up several programs to help caregivers and patients, including one for early support. 

Following Kerr's keynote address, four afternoon workshops were held, which included alternative care models for Alzheimer's patients, effective communication strategies, using holistic and alternatives practices to help the caregiver sustain themselves and a discussion of "Capturing Your Loved One’s Journey.”

But perhaps the most important part of the conference came before, between and after sessions, when people who are caring for relatives with Alzheimer's were able to tell each other stories, ask questions and talk to the professionals who were attending.

While Tuesday's conference was focused on caregivers who take care of family members, the association will offer a "Train the Trainer" workshop for those involved professionally in memory care. That will be held June 20 at the Warren County Human Services Building.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by POSTSTAR
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length