Volunteers needed to help support Alzheimers victims and families

Volunteers are needed to facilitate two different dementia support groups in Cowichan, says Jane Hope of the Alzheimer Society of B.C.

The support and education co-ordinator is hoping to gather people to help with both a caregivers of people with dementia session as well as a support group geared towards people with early symptoms of dementia.

“We are looking for people who have excellent listening and empathetic skills, have a knowledge of dementia or a willingness to learn,” said Hope. “Facilitation skills or a willingness to learn and formal or informal care-giving experience is an asset.

“We do provide training and require a one year commitment,” she said.

The early stage group in Duncan runs twice a month on the second and fourth Wednesdays, while the caregiver support session meets on the third Wednesday morning of the month.

“These groups are there for people who want to inform themselves with current information that will help improve quality of life with the disease,” said Hope. “It’s a safe environment where you can learn, laugh, and help each other through mutual understanding.”

For people interested in the early stages of dementia group, it provides an opportunity to learn about living with dementia and its progression, share feelings and common experiences, exchange practical coping strategies and participate in discussion.

And for those caring for someone with the disease, including spouses, family or friends, that session offers an exchange for information and friendship with others affected, access to the most current information, learning and sharing practical tips for coping with change, decreasing feelings of loneliness and isolation, as well as expressing feelings and being reassured these feelings are normal, and lastly finding a sense of hope.

“Early support is as beneficial as a diagnosis of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can be devastating, but it can also bring relief,” said Hope. “Early diagnosis opens the door to care and treatment that helps people with dementia remain active and independent longer.

“An early diagnosis helps people with dementia and their families take control of their lives and plan ahead.”

British Columbians are fearful of dementia but people can live well with dementia with the right care and support, Hope said.

In B.C., there are currently 70,000 people living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.

This number is set to double within the next 25 years.

Those interested in attending a session or volunteering, can contact hope at 1-800-462-2833 or 250-734-4170 (in Nanaimo).

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