Alzheimer’s conference supports caregivers, families

Alzheimer’s is officially the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the fifth leading cause of death for those aged 65 and older. About one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. The vast majority of care for individuals with Alzheimer’s happens in the home – provided by family members.

The annual Pierce County Alzheimer’s Caregiver Conference provides information, support and encouragement for caregivers, family members and friends who are giving care in the home.  The conference will be held Thursday, Sept. 25, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 1315 N. Stevens in Tacoma. The event is free but RSVP is required by calling (253) 798-8787.

Alzheimer’s kills more than prostate cancer and breast cancer combined.  It is one of the most known diseases worldwide but it is also one of the least understood. Medications are available which delay symptoms but as yet there is no cure or prevention. Increasingly, women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer’s epidemic.

The Alzheimer’s Caregiver Conference will feature keynote speaker Ann Hedreen – writer, teacher, caregiver and filmmaker. Hedreen produced “Quick Brown Fox,” a feature-length documentary of her mother’s journey through Alzheimer’s and impact it had on the family.  Additional sessions will focus on legal issues, caregiving tips and in-home helps including the influence of pet therapy.  Local service providers and community-based resources will also be on hand for participants to gain a better understanding of local supports and resources.

“The challenges facing caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s are incredible,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, Manager of Pierce County Aging & Disability Resources. “Caregiving places incredible physical and emotional demands on spouses and families. While researchers continue to seek a cure, the best we can do right now is to provide the best support possible to those individuals who continue to provide loving care to people with dementia.”

The Pierce County Alzheimer’s Caregiver Conference is an informational event sponsored by the Health Care Providers Council of Pierce County and the Pierce County Aging and Disability Resource Center. For more information contact the Aging & Disability Resource Center at (253) 798-4600 or (800) 562-0332.

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