Local memory care groups unite to help patients' loved ones

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JEFFERSON CITY - The first annual Dementia Caregiver Retreat is helping the loved ones of dementia patients prepare for the holiday season.

"We see people every day who have struggled to care for their loved ones," Carrie Johnson, administrator at The Arbors at Westbrook Terrace, said. "And all of us really just care. We wanted to do something to give back and show people they are not alone." 

The Arbors, as well as Capital Region, Phoenix, Integrity Home Care and the Alzheimer's Association have partnered to put on this event.

It will be hosted by Capital Region at its location off Madison Street.

The event will open at 8 a.m. and close at noon. Both breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Johnson said there will be a variety of educational and healing experiences. It will feature essential oils, hand massages and information on support groups for caregivers.

The event will also feature a guest appearance from Jerry Dowell of the Alzheimer's Assocation. He will be speaking on the Structured Family Caregiver Act, which aims to give families financial assistance with care.

Johnson said the timing of the retreat is intentional.

"When you have Alzheimer's or dementia of some sort, all of that stipulation around the holiday time can be very overwhelming," Johnson said. "So, you tend to see a lot more of a behavioral pattern during the holidays."

These swings in behavior can particularly impact family who do not interact with their loved one on a daily basis.

"They come home and see grandma, grandpa, mom or dad has really declined," Johnson said.

Johnson added, they would love to have as many people as possible, but their hope is just to get it started.

She said this is not a one-time event. The organizations hope to expand this event to multiple retreats throughout the year and potentially form a caregivers coalition down the road.