01/22/12 — Alzheimer's evening support group being formed

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Alzheimer's evening support group being formed

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 22, 2012 1:50 AM

A new evening support group is being formed for families and caregivers of those with Alzheimer's or related dementias.

An existing daytime group currently meets the first Wednesday of each month from 10-11:30 a.m. in the parlor of St. Paul United Methodist Church.

The night version will be at the same location, on the first Monday of the month at 7 p.m. The introductory session will be held Feb. 6, said Anne Paugh, outreach and community development director of Alzheimer's N.C. Inc.

"I have had a lot of phone calls from people who work who cannot come during the daytime and would like to learn about Alzheimer's so that they can become better caregivers," she said. "We want to reach out to those people who are working during the day as well as someone who's taking care of a spouse (or family member) who needs to come in the evening so that someone else can sit with their loved one."

Anyone is welcome to attend either or both of the meetings, Mrs. Paugh said. The most important thing it does is provide an outlet for caregivers to know they are not alone.

"The group process helps people learn a lot about the disease itself and how to anticipate what's ahead because it's constantly changing," she said. "Alzheimer's lasts an average of eight to 12 years.

"It becomes very testing in the later stages, really the middle to last stages. The caregiver really is challenged."

The support group set-up allows for safety and anonymity, as well as a network of others in similar situations.

"I have people come into a group, saying, 'Nobody understands what I'm going through' and they have somebody else that they can connect with, who does understand what they're going through and is living with it as well," she said.

In addition to offering educational materials and a lending library, the focus of the meetings is the caregivers and meeting their needs.

"I find out what the group wants, what they want to learn about," Mrs. Paugh said. "If there are specific topics, I will bring in speakers."

Typically, meetings are not rigidly structured and allow a time for anyone who needs to share or discuss what's going on with them to do so.

While the evening group is designed to meet an hour, those attending will dictate the format, meeting time and length, she said.

"This is our first meeting. The group may say they want it at 6:30," she said. "I'm very flexible It's really what the group wants."

For more information on the support group or other services at Alz-heimer's N.C. Inc., call 252-933-4617.