Dementia a demanding road

Free Family Caregiver Series runs Saturday in Courtenay.

The journey with dementia is a demanding road for an increasing number of Comox Valley families.

Their role as caregivers for a person with dementia brings many challenges, and the first step in dealing with some of the challenges is to learn about the disease, says the non-profit Alzheimer Society of B.C.

“Education helps caregivers understand how communication and behaviours can change,” says Jane Hope, support and education co-ordinator for North and Central Vancouver Island.

It also gives caregivers a better idea of what to expect as the disease progresses.

“With this new understanding they become empowered and they are ultimately more resilient on the dementia journey,” she says.

“Self-care is a big part of that journey,” adds Hope. “When supporting a person with a chronic illness such as dementia, it is vital that caregivers take care of their own physical and mental health as well.”

Recognizing the signs of burnout and being able to deal with their stress, are essential. The society can offer plenty of help.

It begins with the free Family Caregiver Series, which runs March 29 in Courtenay. It provides practical techniques and strategies that caregivers can begin using immediately.

Topics to be covered include:

• Understanding Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias;

• Effective and creative ways of facilitating communication with a person with dementia;

• Understanding behaviour as a form of communication;

• Accessing services;

• Planning for the future.

The series runs from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Lower Native Sons Hall at 360 Cliffe Avenue. Pre-registration is required. To register, contact Courtenay Recreation at 250-338-1000.

The series is free, thanks to partial funding by the Province of B.C., Seacliff Foundation, Merck Canada Inc., Pfizer Canada Inc., Lohn Foundation, Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation, Al Roadburg Foundation and through the generous contributions of individual donors.

The Society has other free resources for local residents, including support groups. For more information, contact Hope toll-free at 1-800-462-2833 or jhope@alzheimerbc.org and visit www.alzheimerbc.org.

— Alzheimer Society of B.C.

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