Learning to live with early-stage Alzheimer's and Related Dementias

Alzheimer's disease, the most common type of dementia, is a devastating and incurable condition that afflicts 5.4 million Americans, including approximately 50,000 people in Miami Dade County.

It is one of a family of dementia illnesses that includes vascular dementia and mixed dementia, among others.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, individuals with early-stage Alzheimer's disease and related dementias are in the beginning stages of their conditions, retaining the ability to participate in daily activities and give-and-take dialogue. With help, these individuals and their loved ones can learn to live a quality life as their illnesses progress.

The Caregiver Resource Center at Doral-based United HomeCare is offering a new, free support group for people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and related dementias and their caregivers. It is designed to address the stresses that can develop in these relationships and the issues they must face together.

The group will be led by a licensed clinical social worker from United HomeCare, and participants will be encouraged to express their emotions in a supportive environment. An array of topics will be covered including:

• Understanding the diagnosis and available treatments;

• Sharing experiences with memory challenges;

• Learning about coping mechanisms;

• Available community resources;

• Benefits of cognitive stimulation;

• Planning for the legal, health and financial implications.

It’s important to recognize that both the individual with Alzheimer’s and the care partner need support dealing with a diagnosis. In particular, caregivers may experience role changes within the relationship, anxiety over who to tell about the diagnosis, and feelings of isolation.

For those reasons, both participate in the support group that will incorporate joint sessions, attended by individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s and their caregiver, as well as congruent sessions where caregivers and their loved ones will meet separately to allow for open dialogue with peers.

Eight sessions of the support group will be conducted at the Caregiver Resource Center on Thursdays from Oct. 11 through Dec. 6, excluding Nov. 22. They will be held from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the center, located in Suite 400, 8400 NW 33rd Street, in Doral.

To learn more about Caregiver Resource Center visit www.unitedhomecare. com or tel. 305- 716-0710.

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