“They are not alone:” Tri-Cities Alzheimer’s patients & caregivers have crucial resources available to them

Tri-Cities
Photo Courtesy: The Alzheimer's Association

RICHLAND, Wash. — Seeing a loved one suffer from dementia is devastating for everyone involved—particularly when it manifests in its most common form: Alzheimer’s disease. Fortunately for people living in the Tri-Cities, a local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association offers extensive resources to support patients and caretakers alike.

Located at 609 The Parkway in Richland, the Alzheimer’s Association cats its services to help Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers through support meetings and programs that keep individuals informed, engaged and in some cases, active.

Jerry Boggs, a volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association chapter in Richland, is on a mission to let people know that there are resources available in their community.

“There are people out there right now in the Tri-Cities area that are losing their quality of life as their dementia takes hold of their mental acuity; as dementia destroys their ability to speak, to reason, to understand and to remember,” Boggs said. “These people are the reason there is an Alzheimer’s Association which was founded by families of those afflicted by this particular disease.”

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Anyone who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can reach out to the Association to participate in programs like these:

  • The “Memory Café” is a meeting place for patients in the early stage of dementia to discuss their experiences and connect with others who may be suffering from similar issues.
  • In the “Staying Connected” seminar program, small groups hear about strategies to cope with the daily challenges of memory loss, keeping engaged with others, advice on how mood can impact memory, and other related topics.
  • “Physical Fitness At Home” is an online workout class for people living with early-stage memory loss and their caregivers to stay active.
  • Need a social outlet as you work through issues related to memory loss? The “Weekly Connection” is a virtual social hour for people with early-stage memory loss and caregivers to speak with people who have similar issues. Participate in group games, conversations and share coping mechanisms with people who can relate to your experiences.

Washington state is tied for the 8th highest Alzheimer’s death rate with 3,704 deaths caused by this disease in 2020, according to a report from Steven Ross Johnson in the U.S. News & World Report. Though it tends to impact people who are 65 and older, it does not discriminate. People of all genders, races and backgrounds are at risk of developing a form of dementia including Alzheimer’s.

The disease had a prolific impact on Boggs, whose father developed a form of vascular dementia similar to Alzheimer’s in the ’90s. His father, a talented welder with the capacity to build homes and trailers in his heyday, found himself unable to operate a wheelchair or verbally communicate with family members.

“He seemed lost to us in all but body,” Boggs said. “This is what pretty much happens to all victims of dementia, and it happens not only to the person affected; it directly and negatively impacts the lives of those who love and care for that person.”

Resources like those offered by the Alzheimer’s Association in the Tri-Cities weren’t available to Boggs and his family when they dealt with it. Now, he’s dedicated to making sure those in similar situations are aware of opportunities to learn, connect, cope and strategize about managing their loved one’s disease.

“These people are the reason there is an Alzheimer’s Association which was founded by families of those afflicted by this particular disease,” Boggs said. “Support groups provide a no-fault, neutral environment in which patients or caregivers can discuss their concerns with others experiencing the same frustrations and problems.

“They can learn that they are not alone in this experience and that, in fact, others are sharing the same frustration and developing common solutions.”

On October 9, the annual ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s’ will be held at Columbia Park to raise funds and awareness about the disease across the Tri-Cities. In-person classes are scheduled to resume soon with more updates issued throughout the year. Click here to visit their website.

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