Steamboat Springs Dealing with a disease that involves the mind can be scary and isolating.
One of the most helpful coping mechanisms for Barb Ross, whose father has Alzheimer's disease, has been reaching out to others who are in similar situations.
"It helps you feel grounded in your own life just by virtue of hearing that this experience is not so far off from what is being experienced by others," Ross said. "In meeting with other people, there is some clarity and perspective."
The Alzheimer's Association and HealthONE Alliance is offering Memory Cafe, a free social mixer for people suffering early stages of memory loss resulting from dementia and Alzheimer's disease. It is an opportunity to socialize in a safe environment and enjoy food, music and dancing.
"This is another avenue to get them out and not be afraid to take them places because their behavior may be socially inappropriate," said Laury Dennis, the facilitator of Memory Cafe. "They can come here and be who they are without having to sit in a support group and say my name is so-and-so and I have the disease."
Dennis is the regional director for Northern Colorado's chapter of the Alzheimer's Association and has successfully facilitated Memory Cafes in Fort Collins. She also will be facilitating "Partnering With Your Doctor" on Wednesday, which is a free two-hour informational program.
"People in the early stages of this disease and their caregivers will learn techniques to help make a partnership between them and their physician," Dennis said.
She will address ineffective physician visits, from which people leave frustrated.
"In the same amount of time, they can get more out of their visit and leave feeling empowered and in control of their health care system," Dennis said.
Both programs are opportunities to connect with others and learn more about the diseases and how to cope.
What: Memory Cafe and "Partnering With Your Doctor"When: Memory Cafe is 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, "Partnering With Your Doctor" 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. WednesdayWhere: Yampa Valley Medical Center conference roomsCall: 871-2500 or Laury Dennis at 970-472-9798
"A big piece for me is sometimes you can feel kind of crazy and caught up in everything," Ross said. "When you hear other people's stories, it helps you understand that what seems crazy may be a normal part of a particular process."
The programs were designed as a support service because people in those situations are often reluctant to hear about the disease and attend support groups, Dennis said. "It's another way for them to get to know one another and not feel alone."
-- To reach Allison Plean, call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org