Offering support for those with Alzheimer’s & Dementia

Support group, founded three years agao, takes place monthly at the Old Schoolhouse in Fall River


FALL RIVER: A support group aimed at helping those find solutions and resource for their loved ones dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s wants to provide those with a clearer sense of understanding.

Three years ago, Sharron Paattinen and Barb MacLellan founded the Fall River Alzheimer’s & Dementia Family Caregivers Support Group. They meet monthly at the last Wednesday of each month at the Old Schoolhouse at 1018 Fall River Road (the Senior’s Friendly Centre). The meetings run from 7-9 p.m.

While they usually have more than a dozen people from the area turn out for their meetings, Paattinen believes there are more out there, but they are unaware that the support group exists.

“We get a lot of people coming to us from the doctors office as they saw our poster and pamphlet they have there,” she said. “When we hold our meetings its done with total confidentiality.”

Paattinen said the group offers a place to exchange ideas and information; talk through challenges and learn what resources are available for those challenges in the community.

“We focus on education by inviting guest speakers in to the group,” said Paattinen.

Some of the past topics include: expanded role of paramedics in the community; the value of music therapy in Dementia; polyparmacology in the elderly; P.I.E.C.E.S, fraud awareness and safety measures in the home for the elderly.

“The group decides on what information they need and then the facilitator finds the appropriate speaker,” said Paattinen.

Part of the adjunct therapy for those with Dementia can include the weekly jam sessions held Saturday nights at the Old Schoolhouse.

“Many members of the jam sessions have had family members or friends who have suffered from the disease,” said Paattinen. “Members of the Fall River Alzheimer’s & Dementia Family Caregivers Support Group are encouraged to come and bring their family members ti the jam sessions.”

She said belonging to a Caregiver’s Support Group offers many rewards.

“The caregiver doesn’t feel so lonely, isolated, or socially judged any further,” said Paattinen. “They gain a sense of empowerment over their situation through the education and emotional support that is being provided.

“Throughout the Alzheimer’s journey group members start ti develop a clearer sense of understanding of what is expected of them in their care-giving role, they start to develop better coping skills that in fact lessen the stress and anxiety that is often associated with the care-giving process.”