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Demential Caregiver's Conference 2013

NACOGDOCHES, May 11, 2013--The Spring 2013 Dementia Caregiver's Conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., May 14, at the North Street Church of Christ Family Life Center, 3914 North Street. Sponsored by the Alzheimer's Association, Dr. and Mrs. Robert Carroll, Jane Austin, and the Area Agency on Aging, the conference is free to caregivers. Nurses, social workers, administrators and activity directors, will be able to receive six hours of CEUs, including three hours of ethics CEUs, at a cost of $30. The conference includes lunch.

The Conference will feature nationally recognized gerontologist Tam Cummings, author of Understanding Alzheimer's - The Guide for Family and Professional Caregivers and The Final Year ... The Final Moment. Cummings will discuss the most common forms of dementia, including the symptoms that distinguish Alzheimer's, Lewy Body, Vascular Dementia, Frontotemporal Dementia, Parkinson's Dementia, W/K Alcohol Dementia and Huntington's Dementia.

She will show caregivers how to utilize a behavioral staging tool, allowing the caregiver to determine the stage of disease of each dementia as well as discuss methods for communicating and approaching persons with dementia.

A member of the National Association of Gerontologists, Cummings will address key concerns of caregivers, including medications, nutrition, brain damage and function, the Activities of Daily Living, Sundowning Syndrome and the final stage of the disease.

"What we want people to leave the conference with is real knowledge and understanding that they can then translate into care for their loved one," Cummings explained. "When Jane (Austin) asked if I would come speak to people she knew who had questions about dementia and dementia care, I was thrilled to do so. Anytime there is an opportunity to teach family and professional caregivers more about the disease process of dementia, I want to be there."

Cummings and Austin met in February when Austin heard the gerontologist speaking in Fort Worth for a support group for families of persons with Frontotemporal Dementia. "I asked if she would let me invite some other people to hear her explain dementia and she said "Yes," Austin explained.”So I contacted the Area Agency on Aging, the Alzheimer's Association and The Carrolls'. These diseases are devastating and I believe others who are family caregivers like I am, need to know more. We need information just like the nurses and social workers and doctors do."

Cummings said the need for information is in some ways very basic, like understanding dementia itself is not actually a disease but is an umbrella term for 48 different diseases, including Alzheimer's, FTD, LBD, etc.

"Families can get lost at the first visit," Cummings explained. "Imagine if instead of the word 'dementia' the physician had said the word 'cancer.' How much different would every families response be? For example, with cancer we know to ask basic questions about confirming the diagnosis, medications, specialists, stages of the disease, which form of cancer, etc., but we just don't think that way about dementia yet."

"That confusion from the very start is tough on families," Austin agreed. "You are left feeling lost and not certain what to do next for help."

The conference will follow dementia from diagnosis to death. Cummings will explain the stages of the disease, the four lobes of the brain and the diseases impact on those lobes and how that damage relates to behavior and ultimately death.

Local aging businesses will be available to provide resources for area residents. To RSVP for the conference or for information, please contact Austin at 936-569-2384.

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