Grand Forks caregivers find much-needed emotional support for their dementia journey

By Contributor
November 2nd, 2015

Asking for help is never easy for most people. But for the increasing number of Grand Forks residents caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, it’s essential.

“You really can’t support your family member by yourself,” says Julie Leffelaar, regional Education & Support coordinator for the non-profit Alzheimer Society of B.C. for Grand Forks and the West Kootenays.

The Society makes it easier for caregivers who need help by running a free local support and information group. Participants meet monthly to share practical tips and strategies for living with dementia.

“They create support and friendship with others whose lives are affected by dementia,” says Leffelaar.

Participants receive much-needed emotional support. “It’s a safe environment where you can learn, laugh, and help each other through mutual understanding.”

The group serves people who want current information that will help improve quality of life for themselves and their family member.

In addition to joining the support and information group, she says, caregivers can think about some of these strategies to take care of themselves too:

* Staying fit

Activity is key for physical and mental health. Walking or any other exercise helps. So does healthy eating.

* Making time for yourself

Take some time regularly for activities that you enjoy. You’ll likely have to arrange for someone else to be with your family member, so plan ahead.  

* Creating a sanctuary

Since the demands of caregiving sometimes make it difficult to leave your home, designate a room in the house as your quiet space. Spend a few minutes there each day, away from the demands of your life.

* Accepting help

This can be as difficult as asking for help. But it’s important. Whenever family and friends offer you assistance, take them up on it.

For more information on the Grand Forks group contact Franni Carmen at 250-442-5320, or Julie Leffelaar toll-free at 1-855-301-6742 or jleffelaar@alzheimerbc.org.

More free resources are available at www.alzheimerbc.org.

Nearly 747,000 Canadians — including many in the West Kootenays — are affected by dementia, and that number is forecast to double within the next 25 years.

Categories: GeneralHealth

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