Clinton County OFA offers Caregiver Training Dec. 6

PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County Office for the Aging is providing a Caregiver Training session with Lindsay Stanislowsky of the Alzheimer’s Association on Dec. 6 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 am.

Participants may access the Zoom session via computer or telephone.

“We are a Caregiver Resource Center,” Sally Whitman, an Office for the Aging case manager, said.

“As part of what we are offering to caregivers is education and support, so this is kind of fulfilling the education piece where we are trying to have a variety of speakers on different subjects that would be important to caregivers and certainly dementia and Alzheimer’s is big. So, I’m looking forward to what she has to say.”

Differences in diseases

Stanislowsky’s one-hour program will be offered via Zoom and will explain the basics of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

A lot of people don’t know that there’s a difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia,” Stanislowsky said.

“It’s the most common question that we get asked as staff members. A lot of folks use the words Alzheimer’s and dementia interchangeably. So we’re going to focus on that and the program, the staging.”

In the United States alone, more than 6 million individuals are living with Alzheimer’s and 16 million are serving as their unpaid caregivers.

The disease is a global crisis that impacts numerous families right here in our community. However, no one has to face this disease alone or without information.

“We don’t have county-specific data but I can tell you that over 400,000 people in New York state have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s,” Stanislowsky said.

General overview

The Alzheimer’s Association has created an education program covering the basics of Alzheimer’s and dementia to provide a general overview for people who are facing a diagnosis as well as those who wish to be informed.

The free one-hour “Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia” program:

Impact on family

The disease impacts family members, who are often caregivers and under even more stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Isolation and lack of stimulation and lack of socialization is just terrible for our brains,” Stanislowsky said.

“Isolation is awful for caregivers, and then those who have a diagnosis. It’s just them trying to process COVID and what is happening. COVID has been terrible.

“A lot adult day programs have closed because of COVID. So any stimulation or activity that those with diagnoses were getting before, that routine has been taken away from them because day programs are closing. It’s just bad.”

The Alzheimer’s Association Helpline is open 24/7 and can be reached at 800-272-3900.

“That’s just master level clinicians that answer the phone and help with crisis mode and things like that,” Stanislowsky said.

Time constraints

Whitman recognizes it’s difficult to get participants to attend Zoom sessions.

“Because caregivers are busy people, and to get them to take time out from their busy day is hard,” she said.

“But we just going to keep offering and try to get people to attend these events. Then there’s a pandemic, so nothing can be done in person.

“Not everyone is computer savvy, but it’s the way of the world these days. You don’t have to have a computer to do this because if you’re not Zoom capable, then you can just call in. We are trying to be as low-tech as possible.”

The Caregiver Resource Center strives to support caregivers in anyway it can.

“Because it’s so important,” Whitman said.

“It’s funny because a lot of people don’t even recognize that they are caregivers. I speak with them, and I say, “Well, are you taking your mom to her doctor’s appointment. Yes. Are you balancing her checkbook? Yes. Are you doing her grocery shopping? Yes. I’m like you’re a caregiver.’ “It’s funny. It’s almost like there’s a negative connotation to the word. I don’t know why or the reality of the responsibility it implies because it’s a lot.

“Depending on family dynamics there can be many children, but typically there’s only one that is doing the work.”

For more information or to register, call Clinton County Office for the Aging at 518-565-4620 or email: aging@clintoncountygov.com


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