Aging Well: Workshop, resources help ease caregiving

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Savvy Caregiver

The Savvy Caregiver workshop, sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association, is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Yampa Valley Medical Center. A donation of $25 is appreciated to cover material costs. To register, call Barbara Bronner at 970-879-8942.

For more

Emmalie Conner, regional director of the Alzheimer’s Association in Fort Collins, will give a free information presentation, “Know the 10 Signs: Understanding Memory Loss and Dementia,” from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Friday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. For more information, call 970-871-7676.

Complimentary adult day/respite

Complimentary adult day/respite care is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Rollingstone Respite House. The offer is open to older adults with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other limitations, who are interested in learning about or experiencing local adult day/respite programs. For more information or to sign up, call Diane Girty at 970-875-1891.

There is no way to fully prepare for the challenge of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Most jobs come with training, but caregiving — and the many roles and responsibilities that come with it — often is unexpected and overwhelming.

It can be helpful knowing that many others are in the same situation, and there are resources to help.

The Savvy Caregiver, a workshop offered at Yampa Valley Medical Center on Saturday, focuses on how to be a better caregiver by understanding and adjusting to the stages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

“The real focus of the program is to increase knowledge of dementia and to develop some special skills and outlook to enhance the wellbeing of the person with dementia and the caregiver, as well,” said Emmalie Conner, regional director of the Alzheimer’s Association in Fort Collins.

Conner will facilitate the all-day workshop with Barbara Bronner, coordinator of a local support group for families of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

In addition to the workshop, Connor will provide a free informational presentation, “Know the 10 Signs: Understanding Memory Loss and Dementia,” Friday afternoon at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.

Adjusting activities

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common of type of dementia, a medical term indicating a change in thinking ability, which can include memory loss or changes in a person’s judgment, reasoning or language.

Dementia-related confusion can lead to fear, which often leads to agitation or aggression.

Lack of stimulation or over-stimulation can exacerbate these behaviors, making a person feel overwhelmed or lost as to what they should be doing.

Contented involvement or activities structured to a person’s ability have been shown to lessen anxiety in these individuals.

Understanding dementia’s progression and how that affects a person can help the caregiver better plan activities of daily living so they are positive and more meaningful.

“It’s up to us to adjust that activity to where their level of comfort is, so they are actively and comfortably engaged and not agitated,” Conner said.

The workshop also helps participants see caregiving as a job separate from their role as spouse, son or daughter and the emotions that go with that role.

Caregivers then can identify the many “hats” that go with their job — nurse, social worker, driver, lawyer, financial advisor, etc. — and think about programs, services and/or family members that can help.

Complimentary adult day

Saturday’s workshop is an opportunity to highlight one such program: Adult day and respite care, a service offered at the Rollingstone Respite House in Steamboat and The Haven in Hayden.

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, which operates the programs, is offering complimentary adult day/respite care to older adults Saturday at the Rollingstone Respite House.

The programs, offered weekdays, are an option for families caring for older adults who are alert and capable in many ways but have cognitive or physical limitations requiring daily supervision.

Adult day provides noninstitutional settings and staff to help with participants’ daily needs and to facilitate conversation, reading, games, exercise, quiet time or whatever activities they enjoy.

At the same time, caregivers have time to accomplish work, errands or personal time.

Adult day, at first, can be a tough transition for the older adult and caregiver. In many cases, however, it’s a solution helping keep older adults at home rather than in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility.

Complimentary adult day Saturday is a chance for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease to attend the Savvy Caregiver workshop worry free, as well as for other families who want to learn more or experience adult day benefits.

Spots are limited. For more information, call Diane Girty at 970-875-1891.

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