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Understanding Alzheimers workshop

Zainab al-Mehdar
Shawville Nov. 16, 2022

To learn a bit more about alzheimer’s, Connexions Resource Centre partnered up with Société Alzheimer Outaouais for a workshop.
On Nov. 16 instructor Andrée-Michelle Cormier was invited to present in Shawville to help participants learn more about alzheimer’s disease as well as other neurocognitive disorders, warning signs, different manifestations of the disease, risks and protective measures.
This event was part of their caregiver program to offer training because they noticed a lot of their caregivers were caring specifically for people with neurocognitive disorders, explained Michèle Gagnon, the community engagement and outreach manager for connexions.
One of the biggest challenges is getting caregivers to come out to these workshops because people caring for a loved one; be it a husband, a father a daughter or a neighbour oftentimes do not identify as caregivers, explained both Cormier and Gagnon.
“Our definition of a caregiver is your loved one that you give any type of time to so if you only have like an hour a week to maybe go do groceries or get the medications, you are still a caregiver. Because it’s something that is added to the traditional role that you had with the person,” said Cormier.
When caregivers don’t see themselves as possessing the role of a caregiver it makes it even harder to reach them and provide them with the tools to allow them to continue caring for their loved one. That also leads to caregivers burnout, because they do not have respite to look after themselves.
“There is about 40 per cent of caregivers who die before their loved one so it is important for them to take care of themselves,” said Cormier. Oftentimes they don’t do it because they feel guilty and believe they need to devote all their time to their loved one added Thatyana Joseph, cordinator of cargivers for seniors.
Providing that information is part of the Société Alzheimer Outaouais’s mandate. They hold workshops and do outreach to inform families know they exist and that they offer things like family counselling, support groups, training at home receipt and day centre respite.
“Just to tell them what is going on in their loved one’s life, what causes all the changes why their judgment is impaired, why their reflection is not the same as before. All of that is explained in all of our workshops and conferences and that makes them understand what is going on but the main question I receive is, ‘is this normal?’ Because there are such unknown facts or unknown things in the person and a lot of surprising changes in your loved one,” said Cormier.
The way patients with dementia or alzheimers are treated has changed over the years. There is still a long way to go but things have improved over time, explained Cormier, adding that it’s important to pay attention to their behaviour. “For example, there’s a big myth saying that people with dementia will become violent and aggressive, because if they become violent or aggressive, it’s a way for them to communicate that it’s not okay, something is wrong. They’re not accepting their disease or the approach that is towards them is not adapted to what they need,” she said.
The response in the past was not geared towards providing a better way of life for patience rather they were bed-bound or heavily medicated, she stated. That’s why now they try to focus on a person-centred approach and understand a person’s background, what they did and where they were from as that will lead to knowing how to treat them.
Through these types of collaborations and workshops Connexions Resource Centre is able to offer training and inform folks about their different programs and offer support to caregivers because it can be isolating, as well as enforcing the importance of taking care of themselves.
“What we hear from [the workshops] the most is ‘I don’t feel alone’ ‘I know now that it’s not just me,’ they’ll say, ‘it’s not just me that feels guilty’ or ‘it’s not just me that loses their patience,’” said Gagnon.
Connexions Resource Centre will continue to do outreach and hold different workshops in the region.

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