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Conference to help those with memory loss

Register • Jul 17, 2014 at 4:30 PM

One of the greatest fears about growing older is losing the ability to interact socially and function independently due to memory loss. According to Serving Our Seniors’ 2012 Older Adult Needs Assessment of Erie County, the No. 1 worry of those age 60 and older is “I worry about developing Alzheimer’s disease”

That shouldn’t be surprising. The Alzheimer’s Association reports five million Americans, age 65 and older, are living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops the condition. (source: alz.org/ alzheimers_disease_facts_and_ figures.asp)

The longer we live, the more likely we are to develop some type of dementia. It is estimated half of those who are age 85 and older have Alzheimer’s disease. In 2020, when 29 percent of Erie County will be age 60 years and older, it is projected 2,070 people living in Erie County will be age 85 and older. (source: development. ohio.gov/files/research/P6023.pdf )

That means an estimated 1,035 will be living with some degree of memory loss/ impairment.

You probably know at least one person who is living with this condition. Over the next five years, you will know more. When dementia develops, most family and friends don’t know how to interact or befriend the person with memory loss.

Their lack of understanding causes them to feel uncomfortable and at a loss for what to do. Those are the people who fall away. This leaves people with dementia, and their families to cope with a diminishing supply of kindness, empathy and social support — at a time when they need it most.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Supportive attitudes and behavior for those living with memory loss can be created. That’s why Serving Our Seniors and the Alzheimer’s Association, NW Ohio Chapter, are partnering to kick-start a compassionate movement by hosting a one-day conference that will give those who attend a basic understanding of what it is like to live with Early Stage Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. They will also gain practical information to manage and cope.

The conference, “Living A Full Life After a Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or a Related Dementia: A Conference for Professionals, Individuals with Early Stage Memory Loss, Families and Friends” will be 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 21, at Sandusky Community Church of the Nazarene, 1617 Milan Road, Sandusky.

It is designed to inform and enlighten laymen, as well as professionals alike. When the attendees leave, they can use their knowledge to contribute to the lives of those they know and to enjoy more meaningful personal interactions. Five hours of continuing education credit is available to social workers by attending. (Nurses can use social work CEs.) The cost is $50 for professionals, $25 for STNAs, home health aides, and students. It is free for family caregivers and persons with memory loss.

Topics will include: providing quality of life programs; practical, everyday strategies for coping with memory changes; assessing and evaluating cognition as people age; dementias that are not Alzheimer’s disease; legal and financial concerns; debunking myths about prevention, while providing information about what food concoctions may help, and how much; how sometimes using humor can be the best medicine for keeping a light spirit when interacting/living with memory loss.

The keynote speaker will be Darcy Morhardt, Ph.D., who is a research associate professor in cognitive neurology at Northwestern University. She specializes in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Dr. Nick DenBestin, a neuropsychologist at Firelands Regional Medical Center, will also speak.

Help us create a compassionate community for those suffering from memory loss. If you, yourself are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia and would like to learn more, we hope you will attend, too.

To register, call the Alzheimer’s Association at 800-272-3900.

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