The Importance of Finding a Dementia Support Group

By: Nelson W. Burns, CEO, Coleman Professional Services

Today, there are approximately 5 million people living with dementia in the United States. It’s estimated that 16% of women and 10% of men living past the age of 55 will develop dementia.

Today’s blog will focus on the common questions associated with dementia, how caregiver support groups work and what Coleman Adult Day Services has to offer in this arena.

What is Dementia?

It’s a syndrome that involves global impairment of cognitive abilities such as memory, logical reasoning and problem solving. Once diagnosed, it generally worsens over time.

What isn’t Dementia?

It’s not temporary confusion, forgetfulness or a medication side effect. It isn’t caused by depression or mental illness.

What are the Causes?

Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), characterized by progressive decline in behavior or language associated with degeneration of the frontal and anterior temporal lobes, has recently been identified as a leading cause of dementia.

In general, the chances of having dementia increases with age. Here are the other diseases it’s linked to:

  • Alcoholic dementia, due to B1 deficiencies
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Brain injury or tumors
  • Lewy body dementia
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Pick’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Thyroid disease
  • Vascular dementia

Is There a Cure? What about Treatment?

There is currently no cure for dementia. In fact, because dementia is caused by different diseases it is unlikely that there will be a single cure. However, there are two main treatments that can help slow down the disease’s progress. The improvements are modest, at best.

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors. These medications — including donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) and galantamine (Razadyne) — work by boosting levels of a chemical messenger involved in memory and judgment.
  • Memantine. Memantine (Namenda) works by regulating the activity of glutamate, another chemical messenger involved in brain functions, such as learning and memory. In some cases, memantine is prescribed with a cholinesterase inhibitor.

What can Caregivers Expect in a Support Group?

As the disease and dementia progresses, family and friends find there are more demands on their time and more effort to complete everyday tasks with the dementia patient. A support group can give the caregiver information, inspiration and encouragement. This is a safe, confidential place to discuss problems, frustrations and share positive experiences, as well.

The biggest benefits of a support group are:

  • Sharing stories with a peers who understand what you are going through. The support and encouragement from the group are priceless.
  • Communicating your own feelings. By doing so, you are learning to put yourself first and finding new ways for self-care.
  • Learning about valuable resources to assist with your challenges.

These meetings are free and last one to two hours.

What Does Coleman Adult Day Services Offer?

We facilitate a dementia support group held on the 3rd Thursday of every month at Coleman Adult Day Services (3920 Lovers Ln. Ravenna, OH 44266). These support group sessions will be held at the Reed Memorial Library in Ravenna beginning in May 2019. 

We offer a free, one-day trial of our facility for those with dementia. We have an accredited staff of nurses, social workers and a nutritionist who work as a team to provide supervised day activities including music, art and supervised day trips in the local community.

If you sign up for our services, we have specialized care plans, therapeutic diets and fall risk assessments.

For questions about dementia, our support group, or services please call us at 330-296-3214 or 877-345-1180. Or email AdultDay@colemanservices.org. Coleman Adult Day Services is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

For lasting support, please make a donation by visiting https://www.colemanadultday.org/donations/.