04/15/04 — Caregiver Education Conference scheduled

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Caregiver Education Conference scheduled

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 15, 2004 1:58 PM

More and more families are being affected by Alzheimer's disease and dementia. A caregiver education conference is planned for next week, with a full day of information sessions and resource options.

The conference will be held on Wednesday in Moffatt Auditorium on the Wayne Community College campus. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., with speakers scheduled until 3:45 p.m.

Anne Paugh, a board member on the sponsoring Eastern N.C. Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, said the regional conference is designed for family members, but other professionals have also been invited.

"Families are always our primary audience," she said. "But we are also targeting professionals in the area who serve these people, such as clergy, law enforcement and medical professionals."

There will be about 22 exhibitors on hand to answer questions and provide information. Among them will be representatives from pharmaceutical companies, sitter services, respite services and other resources.

The first address will be delivered by Teepa Snow, program director of the Alzheimer's Association, and Melanie Bunn, lead trainer with the association. They will speak about understanding dementia and how to help.

Dr. Kathleen Welsh-Bohmer, associate director of the Joseph and Kathleen Bryan Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Duke University Medical School, will deliver the second speech, about the latest in dementia and Alzheimer's disease research and treatment.

Participants will have a choice of sessions in the afternoon. Topics for the first session will include setting boundaries, end-of-life issues, providing spiritual counseling when the disease offers no hope, and law enforcement issues around the disease. The second series of topics include role changes, grief and the long good-bye, and nursing approaches.

The day concludes with "Caregiver Stress Relief," led by Rita Bhan, director of development for the Alzheimer's Association.

Mrs. Paugh said the subjects for the workshop were suggested by families involved in the local support groups. She said they are pertinent because many issues are faced when the disease strikes a family.

"Each person's disease is different," she said. "The grief process for the family is very long and there are a lot of end-of-life issues."

She also said the disease can be a long process.

"The average length of time that somebody lives with Alzheimer's can be eight years, but they can live with it as long as 20 years," she said.

Mrs. Paugh began working with the association as a volunteer while living in Augusta, Ga., where she also served on the board. She became interested in the Memory Walk, which raises money for families affected by the disease and introduced the concept to Goldsboro in 2001. The third annual event is planned for Oct. 16.

Her interest has also become personal, as she has a family history of dementia, and nearly two years ago, her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

In 2002, local support groups were formed for families dealing with dementia-related diseases. The daytime group meets the first Wednesday of each month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at St. Paul United Methodist Church. An evening group meets the second Monday of each month from 7:30 to 9 at Brian Center. Registration is required for the April 21 conference. There is no charge for family members and volunteers. The fee for professional caregivers is $15, which includes a processing fee for the education credit.

For more information, contact Mrs. Paugh at 759-2267.