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A Lacombe care partner support group has been launched by the Alzheimer Society

January marks Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

A Lacombe drop-in care partner support group has been launched by the Alzheimer Society (Alberta and Northwest Territories Division).

Meetings will be held at the Mary C. Moore Public Library on the first and third Fridays of the month, starting at 10 a.m. and running through to 11:30 a.m.

The group is for care partners, allowing them to meet with others who are going through similar situations, said Laurie Grande, client services, team manager – south – Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories

Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that destroys brain cells, causing thinking ability and memory to deteriorate over time.

“We are really hoping to be able to provide that support on a peer level for people who are caring for someone with dementia,” she explained. “It could also be any one of the dementias – not just Alzheimer’s Disease, which is the most common type of dementia.

“We also want them to always feel like they can contact us at the Alzheimer Society in Red Deer outside the hours of the Lacombe group if they need ongoing support,” she said, adding that it’s critical for those affected by dementia to get the proper information and education.

“Our mission is to provide that education, information, and support.”

Grande emphasized that the Lacombe care partner support group is for anyone – a spouse, a son or daughter, or a friend. “It’s for anyone who is providing care for someone with dementia,” she said.

There will also be flexibility within the group as to what the focus of a particular meeting might be.

“If it’s a group that needs more education on something, we will help the facilitator get the information to the members,” she explained. “Many times with a support group, people just want to talk and discover that they are not alone,” she said. “That’s a big thing. With a lot of people, I’ve asked them what is the most beneficial thing they’ve gotten from a (support) group, and they will say that it’s learning they are not alone on this journey.”

According to the Society, “If there’s one key message to share with Canadians, it’s the Alzheimer Society is their ‘First Link’ to a community, resources, and guidance to live well with dementia.”

It’s also important to remember that, “A diagnosis of dementia doesn’t mean you are suddenly no longer you. You are not invisible, and you have the right to be seen, and heard.

“A full life belongs to you and everyone. The progression of dementia is different for each individual and a diagnosis doesn’t mean the person will fast-forward to the later stages overnight.”

As for building awareness through January, Grande said it’s important for folks to not only learn more about dementia but to also find out what is happening in their own communities.

“That way, they know where they can turn to for support,” she said. “I really want people to know that there is help out there, that support makes a big difference and that we as a community can also make a big difference for people who have dementia.”

Grande also noted how progressive and forward-thinking Lacombe has really been in building a more ‘dementia-friendly’ community. The Dementia Friendly Community Initiative started locally a couple of years ago.

Programs run the gamut from Minds in Motion (a combination of physical and cognitive exercises), Music for Dementia and Community Connections to GardenLife, EcoVision (an inter-generation program), the Memory Cafe, and Opening Minds Through Art.

For more about the Dementia Friendly Community Initiative, contact Chelsie Toews at chelsie.toews@wcpcn.ca.

For more about the Lacombe Care Partner Support Group, call Shelby at 403-342-0448.

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