Alzheimer’s Tennessee is launching an effort in Warren County to benefit Alzheimer’s patients and provide assistance to their caregivers. The organization will begin providing a support group and other services next month.
“We added Warren County into our organization about a year and a half ago,” said Cumberland Area director Amanda Barlow, who oversees 13 counties in Tennessee. “Since that time, we have been working toward getting everything ready to launch. We are ready to announce ourselves to the community and begin offering services here.”
The group offers education, expert advice, assistance and a support group for caregivers — usually family members who take care of a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Also, they advocate for Alzheimer’s patients with state representatives and offer training to law enforcement officers and pastors/ clergy in how to recognize when a person is suffering from dementia.
“The support group is for caregivers,” said Barlow. “Caregiver stress is major. They need to know they are not alone. They need someone to listen and sometimes, they need advice from someone who has been through or is going through the same thing. We work one-on-one with caregivers, the people who take care of Alzheimer’s patients.”
Services offered by the organization are free and paid through fundraisers, including an annual Alzheimer’s Awareness Walk. Donations made to Alzheimer’s Tennessee are used in Tennessee.
“We don’t want to be a burden to families. The diagnosis was probably burden enough,” said Barlow. “Everything we offer is free. There is no charge for anything.”
When questioned, Barlow says the training session for officers, as well as pastors and clergy, is to teach those individuals the signs of dementia.
“We hope to reach out to local law enforcement and offer free training sessions,” said Barlow. “We train them to understand the signs of dementia. Alzheimer’s patients can become combative, disoriented and they can wander. They may go into a store and not realize they have to pay for something, so they stick it in their pocket.”
Barlow says the training for police officers began in another county after a gentleman was picked up by officers and he was held for four hours because the department thought his strange behavior was drug related.
On Tuesday, June 10, Alzheimer’s Tennessee will offer “Alzheimer’s 101” at the Warren County Chamber of Commerce on Court Square. The session is informational and open to anyone interested in better understanding Alzheimer’s and hospice memory care.
On Thursday, June 12, Alzheimer’s Tennessee will hold its first support group meeting at Three Star Mall in its community room at noon. Meetings will be held there the second Thursday of each month at noon. Facilitating the meetings will be Barbie Neely, LPN and hospice specialist with Gentiva Hospice.
For more information about Alzheimer’s Tennessee or to register for Alzheimer’s 101, call Barlow at 931-526-8010. Support group information can be obtained through Neely at 931-239-9300.