Local Alzheimer’s, Dementia Caregivers Discuss The Debilitating Disease

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JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – Alzheimer’s and Dementia caregivers in Chautauqua County are rallying together and speaking directly with local healthcare professionals about this debilitating disease that not only impacts the patient, but their families too. 

The western New York Office of the Aging, alongside the Alzheimer’s Association, held two forums for caregivers in the cities of Dunkirk and Jamestown this week, where they discussed a variety of topics when it comes to taking care of someone with memory problems.

“Dementia is something that does not discriminate,“ explained Community Engagement Program Manager Claire Corwin. “I challenge you to look for one person who hasn’t been touched in some way by a loved one, or a friend, or a family member, a neighbor, who is experiencing Dementia. Whether it’s the stress of caregiving, whether it’s a diagnosis, and it’s something we don’t talk about enough as a community. It’s a situation and a circumstance that’s often seen as taboo. No one wants to admit that they’re sick, and especially not sick with Dementia, but it is something that is not going away, there is no cure.”     

Being a caregiver is stressful, and is full of challenges, especially when taking care of those with memory problems.

“This is really to support caregivers,“ stated Director of the Chautauqua County Office of the Aging Dr. MaryAnn Spanos. “To give them the information they need to care for their loved one. No one wants to end their life in a nursing home.”

The past few years have been very difficult for caregivers, so those with the Alzheimer’s Association has a challenge for those at home.

“If you know someone who is a caregiver to truly ask them, what can I do in the next week that will be literally helpful to you and your situation,” explained Corwin. 

To help, new technology is coming out every year, during the pandemic, animatronic animals have been assisting those feeling lonely. 

“He plays music and interacts with you, and the more you move around, the more he interacts with you,” said Dr. Spanos. “You would think that animatronic pets would not have the same effect as a real pet, but they really do. Studies are showing that these guys are really effective, and I was just showing him to somebody in the forum and he got this huge smile on his face.”  

There are several support groups that caregivers can take part in, with more information on the services in our region from the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org.


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