April 14, 2018 — On Wednesday, April 18, Spruce Point Assisted Living and Memory Care Community will be presenting a Memory Care Fair at the group’s facility at 375 Ninth St. in Florence.
The free event is designed to provide information on services available to support families, friends and professionals assisting in the care of individuals suffering from memory- and cognition-related health issues.
Lisa Douda, Community Relations Director for Spruce Point, said that Spruce Point wants to present a forum, open to the public, to discuss the challenges facing caregivers and to suggest strategies and techniques that might help people involved in this critical work.
“We have been working with the Alzheimer’s Association on having caregiver support groups and education classes, but we wanted to do something community wide that would benefit everyone, not just those who live here with us,” Douda said. “This event is meant as a support tool for anyone caring for those with Alzheimer’s or other dementia.”
She said the event will be a “one-stop shop” for be information on support groups, educational classes, caregiver care, estate and trust planning and palliative care.
“This will help caregivers to ease the burden of having to search out these individual services,” Douda added.
Statistics regarding caregivers provided by the Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) and borne out by Douda’s experience at Spruce Point indicate that while some caregivers are paid for the work they do, many are not. The personal toll this work takes on the unsupported caregiver is a great concern to Douda.
“Every day, we have caregivers coming to our community completely lost and not sure where to go or what to do. They have burned themselves out trying to take care of their loved one and they are at the end of their rope. We all have the greatest intentions when we are taking care of our family but doing it without support can sometimes escalate the problem and amplify the situation,” she said. “When you add dementia to the mix, that is just a heavier stone to carry sometimes.
“We wanted to host this event so caregivers can have a place to go and ask questions and get ideas of how to care for themselves and their loved ones.”
According to Douda, one third of caregivers are 65 or older and are caring for a spouse, many of whom are dealing with physical infirmity. A large percentage are also coping with the emotional challenges associated with losing the person they love to Alzheimer’s disease.
“Eighty-three percent of the help provided to older adults in the United States comes from family members, friends or other unpaid caregivers. Nearly half of all caregivers who provide help to older adults do so for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia,” Douda said. “Alzheimer’s takes a devastating toll on caregivers. Compared with caregivers of people without dementia, twice as many caregivers of those with dementia indicate substantial emotional, financial and physical difficulties.”
Another aspect of the many issues associated with caregiving for Alzheimer’s patients regards the costs involved in treatment and the reduction in income that caregivers experience.
“Of the total lifetime cost of caring for someone with dementia, 70 percent is borne by families — either through out-of-pocket health and long-term care expenses or from the value of unpaid care,” Douda said.
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. 16.1 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer's or other dementia, according to statistics provided by the FCA.
“One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Florence statistics alone, with a median age of 60, puts us 54 percent higher than the Oregon average of having caregivers taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementia,” Douda said
Douda’s concern is for all caregivers, not just those employed at Spruce Point. Her main reason for the fair is the many community members involved in taking care of a loved one or family member.
“We invite as many people as we can to our support groups and our education classes. Sometimes just being with others who are going through what you are going through is enough,” Douda said. “When you are tired and emotional and every part of you hurts, you don’t need to have someone fix it — you need someone who knows what it feels like, knows how you feel to give you a hug and just hold your hand and say, ‘It’s OK.’ We want to make sure we can get people there and through this.”
The Memory Car Fair will be at Spruce Point from 1 to 3 p.m. on April 18. Several vendors will also be in attendance.
For more information on the Memory Care Fair, call 541-997-6111.