Alzheimer’s support group forming in Elizabethton

Published 8:56 am Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Being a caregiver to a friend or family member suffering from Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming and can make a person feel isolated. In response to the need for support and resources, Alzheimer’s Tennessee is starting a Caregiver Support Group that will meet the third Thursday of the month from noon to 1 p.m. at Sycamore Springs Senior Living at 1504 W. Elk Ave.
Alzheimer’s Tennessee Regional Director Tracey Kendall said caregivers often feel that they are the only people who can provide adequate care to their loved ones, and that feeling can lead to neglect of their own mental and physical health.
“There are many individuals that believe that they’re the only ones that a particular situation is happening to,” said Kendall. “Alzheimer’s is isolating, so being in a room with people with similar experiences helps them realize there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
The Alzheimer’s Association recorded 418,000 caregivers in 2013 and 476 million hours of unpaid care.
Kendall said many people are unaware of the agencies that provide services to caregivers including financial and emotional support.
Alzheimer’s Tennessee is a 32-year-old organization based out of Knoxville that just opened a Tri-Cities branch. Kendall has 17 years of experience in this field, and between her experience and the background of the organization, they have a number of connections with agencies and resources that may be of benefit to caregivers.
At the initial meeting on November 16, the group will determine the direction it would like to go with the meetings.
“Some groups just want to be able to talk, while others prefer to have an educational focus,” said Kendall.
Meetings with an educational component may feature guest speakers that teach topic-specific lessons like behavioral intervention, hospice care or speech therapy.
At all meetings, members will have access to resources through Alzheimer’s Tennessee, which specializes in helping patients and caregivers.
Kendall encouraged all caregivers to visit at least once, even if they think a support group wouldn’t be of benefit. She said the friendships that blossom out of support groups are a huge benefit.
“Solid, helpful relationships have begun in support groups and then transitioned out,” she said.
Twelve members from a recent You Are Not Alone community educational program suggested the caregiver support group after coming together for that single program.
For more information, call Kendall at 423-330-4532.

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