Dementia Learning Series

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by David Herman

My wife and I had lunch recently with Mary Campbell, who is Education & Support Coordinator for the Alzheimer Society of Lanark Leeds Grenville, along with eight or nine other couples who are living with one form of Dementia or another. Mary mentioned that there is an education series scheduled to be put on in the Kemptville library. These sessions will be an hour and a half long, and run from 2 until 3:30 in the afternoon of May 13 and 27, and on June 10 and 24. If you are looking for information about brain health, concerned about memory loss for yourself or someone you love, interested in knowing about related legal and financial aspects, what kind of community support is out there, or any other questions you may have about Dementia, these sessions are for you.

The sessions are open to the public, and geared to people who have just been introduced to the term Dementia, either from having a spouse or other family member recently diagnosed, or maybe a friend or co-worker. If you are like I was when my wife received her diagnosis, we had heard the term, but had no understanding of what our future might involve. I have said before in this publication that receiving a diagnosis of Dementia is not a prognosis for the end of any sort of useful or meaningful life for the person with the diagnosis. Our life is a little quieter than it might have been without the disease, but with knowledge comes strength.

When we came home from that doctor’s visit, we talked for a while and then I went to our computer to look for information and sources of support and education. I quickly found the Alzheimer’s Society of Lanark Leeds and Grenville. I contacted them and made an appointment for us to come in and discuss our situation, looking for suggestions on how to best move forward. At that time, they did not have a program such as Mary will be putting on in our community.

Each of the four sessions will discuss important concepts which, if you are personally involved, you will have to address at some point in your journey with Dementia. I hope that you have noticed that I use the term Dementia, and not Alzheimer’s, because Alzheimer’s is but one of many forms of dementia. I read recently that they have now identified over 100 different forms of Dementia.

The first session on May 13 will address that question, as it is titled: “What is Dementia?”, where they will present, in a way that can be understood, the different types of Dementia and help understand the process of getting a diagnosis.

On May 27, they will discuss “Adapting to Brain Changes. This session is to allow for more understanding of changes in the brain and how they relate to the symptoms of Dementia. You will also be presented with strategies to help adapt to these changes.

On June 10, the session is entitled: “Planning ahead”, and here they will be helping you understand the risks and challenges of living with Dementia. You will gain some understanding of the need to plan ahead, both financially as well as legally. You will hear from experts on the need for a POA (Power of Attorney) for both your medical, as well as your financial future.

The last session, on June 24, is entitled: “Building a Circle of Support”. As the disease progresses, the demands on the Caregiver increase, and in this session you will hear about the signs of emotional and physical stress. You will learn about what form the available community resources take, and how to avail yourself of them, if and when needed.

As I said at the start, these sessions are for everyone who is, or suspects they may be, starting down this road in the future. Knowledge is Strength, and I know we could have benefited from an educational session like this.

This will help you understand what is going on if, someday, a family member or a friend or co-worker is diagnosed with Dementia, and allow you to more easily walk along with them, because they may seem to have faded, but they are still there and crave your understanding and support. It will not always be easy, but it is worth it, so I urge you, if possible, to attend as many of the sessions as you can.

To allow for planning, you are encouraged to pre-register (no charge). Mary can be reached at [email protected], or 1-866-576-8556.

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