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Richmondites learn how to cope with dementia

Friends and family members of dementia sufferers can find instruction and solace in a series of workshops organized by the Alzheimer Society of B.C. scheduled for the next four Tuesday afternoons.

Friends and family members of dementia sufferers can find instruction and solace in a series of workshops organized by the Alzheimer Society of B.C. scheduled for the next four Tuesday afternoons.

Its important for family members to get connected, said Anthony Kupferschmidt, regional coordinator with the Alzheimer Society of B.C.

Kupferschmidt, who has been working in the field of Alzheimers disease and dementia for 13 years, said its important to understand the medical system and to cope with your own stress when caring for a loved one afflicted with dementia.

The workshops, which take place at the Richmond Caring Place Society, also focus on what to do after it becomes clear a relative needs help.

A lot of family members dont know where to go for help, Kupferschmidt said.

The sessions will show caregivers how to find a caseworker and to navigate various hurdles in the health care system.

The sessions also focus on maintaining the mental health of the caregiver.

If you dont look after yourself, you cannot take care of your family member, Kupferschmidt said. We encourage caregivers to care for themselves.

As difficult as it can be to look ahead when days are consumed with bathing and dressing a relative, Kupferschmidt encouraged taking a long range view while remembering that the relationship must change as the disease progresses.

There is a life after caregiving, he said.

Burning out from long days of excess stress is a real possibility, according to Kupferschmidt.

The sessions are also scheduled to examine myths surrounding dementia.

If people lose their keys, they often make a joke about having Alzheimers, but Kupferschmidt said losing things is not usually a sign of the disease.

Becoming disoriented about times and places, putting things in unusual places and abrupt changes in personality can all signal of the onset of dementia, according to Kupferschmidt.

The Richmond family caregiver series, which is free of charge, takes place every Tuesday from two to four p.m. The series concludes October 4.

To register call Kupferschmidt at 604-238-7390 or e-mail anthonyk@alzheimerbc.org.