December Support Groups – Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula Area

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December 9th, 10:30am
For Caregivers
The Orchard
2 Delfae Drive
Warsaw, VA 22572
Respite available with reservation.
Please call Jill White, 804-313-2400, for more information.

December 10th, 10:30am
For Caregivers
Alzheimer’s Association Office – DeHardit House
7335 Lewis Avenue
Gloucester, VA 23061
No respite available.
Please contact Ted Leonard, 804-642-9189, for more information.

December 16th, 10:30am
For Caregivers
Port Town Village Apartments
111 Port Town Lane
Urbanna, VA 23175
No respite available.
Please contact Barbara Swain, 804-832-1571, or Lisa Jones, 804-695-9008, for more information.

December 18th, 6pm
For Caregivers
Alzheimer’s Association Office – DeHardit House
7335 Lewis Avenue, Gloucester, VA 23061
No respite available
Please call Ellie Galloway, 804-695-9382, for more information.

December 19th, 10:30am
For Caregivers
Commonwealth Assisted Living
460 S. Main Street
Kilmarnock,VA 22482
Respite care available with reservation.
Please contact Ellie Galloway, 804-695-9382, for more information.

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December Support Groups – Fredericksburg Area

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December 2nd, 10am
For Caregivers
Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center
2nd Floor Conference Room
4600 Spotsylvania Avenue
Fredericksburg, VA 22408
Please contact Lori Myers, 540-370-0835, for more information.

December 8th, 6:30pm
Early Stage for Caregivers and Persons with Dementia
Please call the Chapter Office, 540-370-0835, for more information.

December 16th, 1:30pm
For Caregivers
Homecare America
2017 Plank Road
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Please contact Lori Myers, 540-370-0835, for more information.

December 16th, 7pm
For Caregivers
Carriage Hill Health & Rehabilitation Center
6106 Health Center Lane
Fredericksburg, VA 22407
Please contact Judy Scheibe, 540-898-1378, for more information.

December Support Groups – Richmond and Tri-Cities

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December 1st, 10am
For Caregivers
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church
11220 Nuckols Road, Glen Allen, VA 23059
Please call Jessica Samet, 967-2580, for more information

December 2nd, 3pm
For Caregivers
First Baptist Church
401 N. Second Avenue
Hopewell, VA 23860
Please call Blanche Castelow, 748-5585, or June Gilliam, 748-6668, for more information.

December 2nd, 7pm
For Caregivers
First Baptist Church
800 Thompson Street
Ashland, VA 23005
Please call Bob Junod, 752-2219, for more information.

December 2nd, 7pm
For Caregivers
Second Branch Baptist Church
12217 Second Branch Road
Chesterfield, VA 23838
Please call Christina Dhir, 536-9229, for more information.

December 3rd, 4pm
For Caregivers
Riverside PACE
315 Brown Street
Petersburg, VA 23803
Please call 800-272-3900 for more information.

December 4th, 6pm
For Caregivers
Good Shepherd Baptist Church
1127 N. 28th Street
Richmond, VA 23223
Please call Wanda Hunt, 305-8394, for more information.

December 9th, 7pm
For Adult Children
Bon Air Methodist Church
1645 Buford Road
N. Chesterfield, VA 23235
Please call Lynda Gormus, 320-0619, or Erin Davidson, 514-2142, for more information.

December 10th, 9:30am
For Caregivers
Hanover Adult Day Center
7231 Stonewall Parkway
Mechanicsville, VA 23111
Please call Vivian Bagby, 321-1649, or Barbara Allen, 782-1942, for more information.

December 10th, 10am
For Caregivers
New Life United Methodist Church
900 Old Hundred Road
Midlothian, VA 23114
Bob Schaefer, 310-7991, or Leigh Hilldrup, 839-0236, for more information.

December 11th, 1:30 pm
Early Stage for Caregivers and Persons with Dementia
Please Call the Chapter Office, 967-2580, for more information.

December 13th, 12pm
For Caregivers
First Union Baptist Church,
3510 Dill Road
Richmond, VA 23222
Please call Jacki Page, 321-2573, for more information.

December 16th, 10am
For Caregivers
Lakewood Manor
1900 Lauderdale Drive
Henrico, VA 23238
Please call Mary Ann Johnson, 967-2582, for more information.

December 16th, 2pm
For Caregivers
Bon Air Methodist Church
1645 Buford Road
Family Life Center, Blanchette Brown Room
N. Chesterfield, VA 23235
Please call Nancy Lentz, 967-2586, for more information.

December 18th, 11:30am
For Caregivers
Vista Park Memory Care
550 Flank Road
Petersburg, VA 23805
Please call LaChelle Rouse, 861-4358, for more information.
Lunch provided

December 18th, 6:30pm
For Caregivers
New Bridge Baptist Church
5701 Elko Road
Sandston, VA 23150
Please call Connie Tucker, 241-2056, for more information.

December 18th, 7pm
For Caregivers
Lucy Corr Village
6800 Lucy Corr Court
Chesterfield, VA 23832
Please call Blanche Castelow, 748-5585, or Edith Byrnes, 271-4441, for more information.

Younger-Onset Group
This is a Support Group for individuals who were diagnosed with a dementia disease under the age of 65. For more information on this group, please contact the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Richmond Chapter office at 804-967-2580.

Holiday Tips for Caregivers

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The holidays can be tough with any family, but for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s or dementia, they can be especially difficult.

Here are some tips for caregivers to help things run more smoothly so you and your family are able to enjoy the holidays:

1. Adjust your expectations of yourself, the caregiver. Only agree to take on what you can reasonably manage, and ask for help. Holidays often come with traditions and expectations from family members, but try to ask for people to be flexible. Perhaps you can ask someone else to host the holiday gathering this year.

2. Let family and friends know what to expect if they haven’t seen the person with dementia in a few months or a year.

3. If a holiday gathering is large, assign a friend or relative (or two) to be a “buddy” to the person with dementia. The buddies can take turns guiding the person with dementia through what is expected at the gathering and making sure the person with dementia’s needs are being met.

4. Try to schedule only one activity or outing a day and allow the person to rest either before or after the event. If you have an especially busy day, plan for the next day to be one of rest and relaxation for both the person with dementia and you.

5. Involve the person with the diagnosis in tasks that they can succeed in. Maybe he or she can no longer prepare the entire meal, but perhaps the person can rinse the vegetables, set the table or clean silverware and still feel included in the preparation.

6. Take time for yourself. If you have a holiday tradition that is important to you, such as attending the Nutcracker with your grandchildren, arrange for home care, so you can continue to do this tradition and have time for yourself.

7. Finger foods are great for everyone, especially persons with dementia. Have snacks on hand for the person with dementia, even if a big dinner is being planned, so he or she does not have to wait a long time for dinner to be ready.

8. Consider having a holiday-themed, structured activity prepared that the person with dementia can do with children or other adults (stringing popcorn, painting holiday decorations, making a collage) so that the person does not have to rely on making conversation.

9. During a holiday get together, it can be helpful for the person with dementia if everyone wears a name tag. This way there is no pressure for the person to remember everyone’s names. Make them colorful and fun so everyone wants to wear them!

10. Since the person with dementia’s memory and conversation skills could be limited, try not to ask too many questions of him or her, especially those that begin with, “Do you remember…?”

11. When conversing with the person with dementia, discuss what is going on in the room in that moment or make statements such as “It is so nice to see you”; “I like what you are wearing”; “Can I get you something to eat?”

12. Ask family members to bring old photo albums that the person with dementia might like to look through. Tell him or her who is in the pictures.

13. Create a quiet space that the person with dementia can retreat to if the gathering becomes over stimulating.

14. If you are the caregiver and the host, consider making the get together potluck so that you are not pressured to do it all.

15. It is common to experience more sadness, loss and feeling alone at this time of year. Attending a support group or seeing a counselor can be very helpful. Call the 24-hour Helpline at 800-272-3900 to find out more about these resources or if you need help. We are here 24/7, 365 days a year, even on holidays

Why I Walk – Denise Johnston

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My name is Denise Johnston and I Walk to End Alzheimer’s for my 83 year old mother and my 63 year old brother-in-law.

I Walk to raise awareness in hopes that others begin to understand what it is like to be a caregiver like my sister is and that others who haven’t been affected by the disease understand what it’s like to watch a loved one have their future stolen right before your eyes.

Nobody can do this alone and I could not have made it through the last few years with my Mom, and going through our brother-in-law’s early onset without the love and support of my husband, Nelson. He is my rock.

My mom started showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s when she was 80 years old, but there were subtle signs even earlier. I come from a large family, one of seven siblings, and our emotions have played a role along the way as we have had to come to terms with Mom’s diagnosis. My mom has been living in an assisted living facility since May of this year.

Before retiring from the University of Richmond, I helped start an Elder Care Support Group for staff and faculty. At the meetings, we’d all get together and listen to stories. Share advice. Laugh. Cry. Then laugh and cry some more.

Emotionally, it’s been hard on all of us, but especially watching my brother-in-law’s early onset Alzheimer’s progress.

He’s 63. A husband. A dad.

When he first started showing symptoms, we reached out to the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Richmond Chapter to see what assistance they could offer. Upon hearing they had an Early Onset Support Group, I took my sister to a meeting. It truly was a wonderful experience and she still attends their ‘Butterfly Café’ every two weeks.

This year was the first time I participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and my husband and my brother from Georgia participated too.

Being there meant so much to us.

We Walked the 3 mile route and were so moved seeing all the people involved. In fact, we are already discussing having our family reunion centered around the Walk next year.

There was one defining moment for me during the Walk.

As I looked around the sea of people, I saw someone I knew holding a blue flower signifying they had Alzheimer’s. I had no idea.

Right then it hit me.

Alzheimer’s affects ALL OF US!

We HAVE to support each other.

We HAVE to do more.

We all NEED to be aware of the disease and its symptoms.

The Walks to End Alzheimer’s may be over, but there is still time to donate.

Get involved and make a difference for the millions of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias!

Northern Neck – Middle Peninsula: Donate at http://bit.ly/ALZ_Walk_NorthernNeck

Fredericksburg: Donate at http://bit.ly/ALZ_Walk_Fredericksburg

Tri-Cities: Donate at http://bit.ly/ALZ_Walk_TriCities

Richmond: Donate at http://bit.ly/ALZ_Walk_GRVA

Winter Tips for Caregivers

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As the temperatures fall this winter, those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia should be aware that snow, colder temperatures, and early darkness present special problems.

A loved one with Alzheimer’s won’t necessarily dress appropriately for colder weather. Cover as much exposed skin as possible and provide several layers of lightweight clothing for easy movement, especially if plans include time outside. A hat is important since so much body heat escapes from an uncovered head and don’t forget to add a scarf to cover up an exposed neck. Mittens keep hands warmer than gloves and may be easier to get on and off. Clips designed for skiers can help keep track of gloves or mittens that are otherwise easily misplaced or lost.

Sundowning is a term that refers to increased anxiety, confusion and even increased sleepiness due to the decreased sunlight in the winter months. Visual perception is already an issue for many people with Alzheimer’s and can cause increased confusion or disorientation in dark or shadowy environments both inside and out. Turn lights on earlier, open curtains during daylight hours and add bulbs that simulate sunlight. Install motion detector lights to help illuminate walkways around the home as darkness may fall before arriving home from an outing. Dressing in light or bright colors or adding reflective material to clothing will help a loved one be more easily seen.

To avoid slips and falls, make sure boots are non-skid. There are many boot styles on the market that use Velcro instead of laces to allow the person with dementia some success with dressing themselves. Try separate “tracks” that attach to the soles for added traction on icy surfaces. You can also add a sharp tip to canes for that extra grip on winter days. This device is available at home health care stores.

Assume ALL surfaces are slick and by taking smaller steps and slowing down, the person with Alzheimer’s can match gait and speed to a safer level.

– Perception problems can make it difficult for the person with Alzheimer’s to see ice on the sidewalk or realize that ice is slippery or that snow is not a solid surface.

– Keep sidewalks and driveways clear of ice and snow to make walking outside safe for everyone, but do not overuse ice melt products which can reduce traction.

– Use indoor or garage parking whenever possible.

– Especially on stairs or slick spots, insist on handrail use and walk arm in arm when possible.

– Acquire and use a State issued Handicapped placard enabling closer access to the door of buildings.

NOTE: Special thanks to the Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter for sharing these tips.

Alzheimer’s Association 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

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Alzheimer’s Association 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

Individuals may experience one or more of the signs to varying degrees, but if you notice any of the signs, please see a doctor.

Memory loss that disrupts daily life. One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; relying on memory aides (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.
What’s typical: Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.

Challenges in planning or solving problems. Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
What’s typical: Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.

Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure. People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
What’s typical: Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.

Confusion with time or place. People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
What’s typical: Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.

Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast. In terms of perception, they may pass a mirror and think someone else is in the room. They may not realize they are the person in the mirror.
What’s typical: Vision changes related to cataracts.

New problems with words in speaking or writing. People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).
What’s typical: Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.
What’s typical: Misplacing things from time to time, such as a pair of glasses or the remote control.

Decreased or poor judgment. People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
What’s typical: Making a bad decision once in a while.

Withdrawal from work or social activities. A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.
What’s typical: Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.

Changes in mood and personality. The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.
What’s typical: Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is an important step towards getting appropriate treatment, care and support services for the individual with the disease and their caregivers.

The benefits of an early diagnosis include access to treatments that may improve symptoms and help maintain a level of independence for a longer duration; more time to plan for the future; the ability to participate in decisions about their care, transportation, living options, financial and legal matters; developing relationships with doctors and care partners; and benefitting from care and support services that can make it easier to manage the disease, including the support offered by the Alzheimer’s

If you or your loved one already has an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis, the holidays can be a stressful time of year. With some planning and adjusted expectations, your celebrations can still be happy, memorable occasions. Please visit http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-holidays.asp for tips and ideas.

If you have questions about the 10 Signs, seek additional information on Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementias, or have questions about holiday coping, please contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 toll-free helpline at 800-272-3900.