March 11 class in Lake Oswego will offer tips and advice for families and professional caregivers
As the state’s population continues to age, Oregon Care Partners is reaching out more than ever to heal the heartbreak of dementia with a series of free classes for families and professional caregivers.
Called “Conversations About Dementia,” the classes are part of OCP’s extensive list of offerings funded through a contract with the State of Oregon and in collaboration with the Oregon Department of Human Services.
“The OCP is bringing this program to every corner of the state,” spokesman Jack Coleman says. “There’s a huge need for it.”
Lake Oswego is one of many places in the state with a large senior citizen population, Coleman says, and so OCP is bringing “Conversations About Dementia” to the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center (505 G Ave.) on Friday, March 11. The class, which is scheduled from 10-11:30 a.m., is being presented by the Alzheimer’s Association.
The goal, Coleman says, is to provide tips for breaking the ice and setting the stage for meaningful and productive conversations about dementia.
“Caregivers are under a lot of pressure,” Coleman says, as are the families of people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. “The caregiver’s health is at stake, too. They need better knowledge about what resources are available and what to expect.”
Sara Holland, director of programs and outreach for the Oregon chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, agrees and notes that “Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.”
“And it is the only one we can’t prevent, treat or cure,” she says. “Some caregivers have been caring for years, and they really need help understanding safety and medications.”
The problem is especially acute in Oregon, Holland says, because the state “in general is aging much faster than the rest of the country.” Fortunately, she says, knowledge about the disease is growing rapidly, even as the number of Alzheimer’s cases explodes.
“Sometimes, people have shown symptoms for years and they don’t realize they have Alzheimer’s or dementia,” Holland says. “There are normal cognitive changes and changes that should be looked at by a physician.”
Coleman says that during the “Conversations About Dementia” class, expert caregivers will share real-world experiences and offer advice about how to discuss going to the doctor for a diagnosis, deciding when to stop driving, making plans for managing finances and legal documents, and other difficult discussions.
“This program is very accessible, and it’s free due to state funding,” he says. “A free resource is finally here.”
To register for the class, contact the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 help line at 800-272-3900. For more information about free online and in-person classes about dementia care, go to www.oregoncarepartners.com.