Talks focus on initial shock of Alzheimer’s

To help deal with the difficulty of a loved one being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Pierce County’s Community Connections Aging and Disability Resources will host a free six-part series of discussions for families and individuals about the initial journey through Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
The series, which will start and continue through June and into July, will cover warning signs, symptoms, managing behaviors, the progress of the disease, legal concerns, financial issues and resources for help and support.
The talks will be led by Jessica Girrard and Kris Sawyers-Dowling, who, as case managers with Aging and Disability Resources, specialize in helping families during the early stages of the disease. The schedule and topics for their presentations is:
• May 15, “What is Dementia? What are the warning signs?”
• May 29, “How do I start the conversation? How do I cope with the shock?”
• June 12, “What are the typical behaviors? How do I manage them?”
• June 26, “How does the disease progress? What should I expect?”
• July 10, “How do I pay for care? What are the legal things I should do?
• July 24, “Where can I turn for help? What are the resources I can rely on?”
All sessions will be held at noon at the Pierce County Annex, located at 2401 S. 35th St. in Tacoma. People can attend any or all of the discussions.
“The prevalence of Alzheimer’s and other dementias is growing rapidly,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, manager of Aging and Disability Resources. He added there are more than 150,000 Washingtonians with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, and that number is expected to triple by 2050.
Nationally over 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, including approximately 200,000 who are younger than 65 year old and have younger-onset Alzheimer’s. Almost two-thirds of American seniors living with Alzheimer’s are women.
“Until a cure is found, our goal is to help families with care, information and resources,” Van Valkenburg said.
Additional information is available from the Aging and Disability Resource Center at 253-798-4600.