Alzheimer’S Association Support Group Begins Bi-Monthly Meetings

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Family members and caregivers of victims of Alzheimer’s disease are invited to attend the new Alzheimer’s Association Support Group. It meets from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. the first and third Wednesday of the month at the Payson Senior Center, 514 W. Main St., Payson.

Anyone interested in learning more about the disease is also welcome to attend.

The group’s first meeting was Wednesday, Dec. 7 and 13 people attended.

They received helpful information on the 10 signs of Alzheimer’s for identifying the difference between normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease from a presentation by Cindy Vargo, regional director of the Desert Southwest Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

One of the signs of Alzheimer’s disease is changes in mood and personality. Between 60 and 80 percent of persons with Alzheimer’s disease have some form of agitation and up to 50 percent exhibit physical aggression. Many times this is due to confusion regarding the affected person’s personal discomfort.

The solution is to help the affected person identify their discomfort and help them correct it. For example, a solution for confusion of the location of the restroom may be to place a portable latrine next to their bedside.

Printed pamphlets and several well-written books about Alzheimer’s disease were recommended.

One of the most effective books for caregivers and families dealing with this disease is The 36-Hour Day by Nancy Mace and Peter Rabins. This book identifies and offers solutions to problems that emerge in the course of this illness.

In January 2012, the Desert Southwest Chapter will initiate CarePRO (Care Partners Reaching Out) to provide dementia-related education and training workshops designed to reduce caregiver stress, enhance caregiver well-being, and help caregivers manage difficult situations. This free program requires the caregiver to attend five, 2.5-hour workshops to learn effective strategies and improve mood and communication skills. At least 10 attendees are required to bring this program to Payson.

Anyone interested in more information or wishing to register for the CarePRO program should contact the Alzheimer’s Association Desert Southwest Chapter at 1-800-272-3900 or the Payson Chapter facilitator Shirley Grady at (602) 697-4870.

The Payson Alzheimer’s Association Support Group meetings are held the first and third Wednesday of each month. If you have any questions, please contact Grady at (602) 697-4870, the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 helpline 1-800-272-3900, or online at www.alz.org.

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