“Frustrated.” “Alone.” “Scared.” “Forgetful.” “Isolated.”
These were some of the words participants at the Dementia Luncheon associate with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The luncheon brought together different people from the area. Some had family members who were impacted by the disease, while others were simply interested in the topic and wanted to learn more.
The November 14 luncheon was organized by the Living at Home/Block Nurse Program, and was hosted at the K.K. Berge building by the Granite Falls Chamber of Commerce. According to Mary Ims, the Program Director at Living at Home/Block Nurse Program (LAH/BNP), social events like the luncheon are a way to educate individuals about the impact of dementia and to help foster a dementia friendly community.
Ims helped to facilitate the workshop and started things off by giving a presentation. She outlined the symptoms of dementia and shared personal stories about working with individuals suffering from the disease. In the resource packet given to every participant were 5 key messages about dementia:
•Dementia is not a normal part of aging
•Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain
•Dementia is not just about having memory problems
•It is possible to have a good quality of life with dementia
•There’s more to the person than the dementia
Because dementia impacts communication skills, the group also reviewed useful tips for interacting with dementia patients. Important tips included always making eye contact, speaking slowly and clearly, and avoid interrogative questions (“Do you remember when?”). Above all, Ims stressed the importance of patience and compassion in helping dementia sufferers feel comfortable and secure.
LAH/BNP Executive Director Mark Roisen, who also attended, said that the luncheon is one of many ways Living at Home/Block Nurse Program is working to make the Granite Falls area more dementia friendly. “It’s all about making meaningful social experiences, both for the dementia sufferer, and the caregivers,” he explained. “Having a dementia friendly community means that wherever they go, they will be supported.”
He hopes that more people become aware of dementia, and explained that luncheons like the one held in Granite is a great starting point for caregivers and community members alike. Living at Home hopes to organize similar luncheons in the future, and the Chamber expressed interested in hosting. Residents who are interested in attending are encouraged to contact Living at Home at (320) 564-3235, or online at email@example.com.