Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Fairfield group supports dementia caregivers
Courtesy of Karen Jentz
Jan. 31, 2023 2:55 pm
Are you caring for a loved one with dementia? A local support group for caregivers began in May 2017, and continues to meet monthly on the first Saturday of the month. They welcome other providers to join them, or connect with them for additional support.
Dementia can take many forms: Alzheimers, Vascular (mini strokes), and less commonly, Lewy Body, a particularly devastating form. Dementia is very different from the aging brain, which is common to many of us as we get older. It is a progressive disease. We watch our loved one experiencing more and more difficulty with simple daily tasks, not recognizing once familiar objects, surroundings, people.
This can happen gradually over many years, or for others the progression is more rapid. But at some point, the day comes that we have become something we did not bargain for: a caregiver. As that role increases and intensifies, it becomes more and more important that we attend not just to our loved one, but to ourselves.
Family members who take on the caregiving role are often under a lot of stress—usually for a long time. When dementia caregivers are compared with persons like them who are not caregivers, the potential perils of the situation are clear.
Dementia caregivers are:
⁃ Twice as likely to have health problems and mental health issues
⁃ Two and a half times as likely to be taking medicine for their nerves
⁃ Only half as likely to seek medical help for their problems
- More likely to feel cut off from their family and friends
- More likely to be pinched financially
It has been found that regular participation in a support group can greatly help keep the caregiver healthier and more positive. It is a place to exchange practical information on caregiving problems and possible solutions, a place to talk through challenges and ways of coping, and a place to share feelings, needs, and concerns.
The local group was originally formed under the auspices of the Alzheimers Association and in conjunction with Optimae. The group now meets at Golden Magnolia at 220 South Main St. Fairfield, from 2-3:30 p.m. in the winter, and outdoors in a local park in warmer weather. There is also a confidential email list for sharing local resources and information about future meetings, etc.
To be added to the email list or for information on the group meetings, the next scheduled meeting is for Saturday, Feb. 4, at 2 p.m., and the point of contact is Karen Jentz at 505-320-5719, or Lil at 319-863-3404.