- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Sometimes even caregivers need a break.
On Wednesday, the National Capital Area chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association held its annual Southern Maryland Dementia Care Conference. The daylong event was geared toward providing caregivers for those with Alzheimer’s disease and similar illnesses a place to come together and receive support, along with a chance to take advantage of local resources.
Approximately 140 people attended the event at the Jaycees center in Waldorf, which featured speakers in several specialties and covered topics including technological resources and improvements for care of those in need, how to connect with other caregivers to share experiences and the overall state of the disease.
In her presentation, Maureen Charlton, the association’s NCA chapter Helpline program coordinator, detailed the importance of asking for help along the way.
“There’s often roadblocks we didn’t anticipate,” when providing this brand of care, Charlton said. “My job is to help you find the tools ... to navigate the journey. It’s difficult to [do] alone.”
Charlton likened the care of Alzheimer’s patients to a journey, one on which consistent help from outside sources is necessary for success. Of the sources the association offers that Charlton discussed, AlzConnected.org, a social networking tool for families and caregivers for those suffering from the disease, was among the newest, having been launched in February.
Charlton walked the conference attendees through the website so they could see firsthand the resources available.
“Take advantage of these ... we all need some gas from time to time. We don’t always know the right questions to ask along the way, and this can help. Enjoy the journey. It’s a tough one, but we’re here to help,” Charlton said.
Along the walls of the room, groups that provide assistance offered attendees brochures and pamphlets about services available.
Dina Barclay, chief of aging and senior programs for the Charles County Department of Community Services, said the division assists 3,800 people in need each year through the services it offers.
“We’ve got a full array of programs,” Barclay said. “There’s no wrong door for ... people who need long-term care services.”
Among the services offered for caregivers is a support group that Barclay said meets the last Wednesday of every month at the Richard R. Clark Senior Center in La Plata. The program offers respite care and supplies for those with the disease. Barclay said working with similar institutions in Calvert and St. Mary’s counties helps keep the ones in Charles afloat, as it helps provide continuity of care and keeps policies consistent in the region.
Carolyn Cooper of Pomfret has attended events like Wednesday’s regularly for the past 14 years; she acts as caregiver for her husband, who has Alzheimer’s.
“There’s always new information, especially in the research,” Cooper said. “With more people having the disease in the area and sharing their concerns, it helps. It’s good to have a refresher, especially with what they discuss with the online material. ... It’s good to see what’s new. It’s been very helpful.”
For more information about the Alzheimer’s Association, go to www.alz.org/nca.