ACTing on Alzheimer’s

Kick-off April 23 will launch Roseville project to help residents gain skill in dealing with dementia

Warren Wolfe
special to the Review

Roseville area residents will gather Thursday, April 23, at City Hall to kick off a new project aimed at helping friends, neighbors and customers dealing with dementia.

“Most of us know families—sometimes our own families—who are struggling with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia,” said Deb Nygaard, one of two dozen volunteers who have created the project, called Roseville ACT on Alzheimer’s.

“It can be very difficult. What we want is to help Roseville become a more dementia-friendly community,” said Nygaard, who also is director of development at Arthur’s Residential Care in Roseville.

The project seeks to provide information and reduce the stigma of Alzheimer’s so that people feel more comfortable and competent talking with friends—and in their own families—about dementia, and to increase services for those affected.

ACT activities will focus on eight presentations by experts this spring and again in the fall, a series of four movies about people coping with dementia, and opportunities for volunteers to help expand programs for area families dealing with dementia. All events will be free and open to the public.

The kickoff event will take place on April 23 from 1-3 p.m. at Roseville City Hall in the council chambers. Organizers including community members, social service professionals, and business and city officials, will describe events planned for this year and work already accomplished in the city.

In addition, several people with Alzheimer’s and their family caregivers from the Roseville area will speak via taped interviews about the impact of dementia. An estimated 750 people in Roseville have some type of dementia—roughly one in nine ages 65 and older. About 90,000 Minnesotans have dementia, a number growing as the population continues to age.

Project started with community survey

A survey of more than 100 Roseville residents and businesses in 2014 and a community meeting last October made it clear that people in the city want more information about Alzheimer’s and want more services for families coping with dementia.

The project was launched early last year by a larger group called the Roseville Alzheimer’s and Dementia Community Action Team (Roseville A/D). That group first met in 2013 and helped sponsor several public presentations, dementia-screening clinics and other events before it started ACT.

ACT on Alzheimer’s is a statewide collaborative with 34 local projects now underway to help create dementia-friendly communities where businesses, neighbors, friends, police and other city and community services can better support families dealing with dementia.

The program received a state award last year at the Minnesota Age and Disabilities Odyssey Conference for helping improve the quality of life for elders and people with disabilities and their communities. Leaders of several national organizations met recently to explore expanding the ACT program nationally.

More projects to come?

The work of the Roseville volunteers will not end with the ACT project, said Sara Barsel, co-founder of Roseville A/D and active in many community efforts, including a study to determine if a block nurse program for older and disabled people might work in Roseville.

“The ACT project has taken most of our time for more than a year, but we have a growing parking-lot of other ideas to help our community be more effective with Alzheimer’s and dementia,” she said

“There are a lot of very smart, very creative people in Roseville who care deeply about these issues,” she said.

“I don’t know where we’re going with all this yet,” she added. “But stay tuned. There’s more to come.”

For more information about the Roseville ACT on Alzheimer’s project, go to the “Alzheimer’s and Dementia Information” page at  www.ci.roseville.mn.us/2721/alzheimers-dementia.

Warren Wolfe retired from the Star Tribune after writing about aging issues for 21 years. He and his wife, Sheryl Fairbanks, are former family caregivers for parents with dementia and are active in the Roseville ACT on Alzheimer’s project.


Roseville expert talks

In Roseville, four evening talks by local experts will offer information about dementia and the healthy brain. They will take place from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays from April 28 to May 19 at the Fairview Community Center, 1910 County Road B West.

Topics and presenters will be: Healthy Brain—Carolyn Klaver, Lyngblomsten; Dementia vs. Normal Aging—Amy House, Senior Helpers Home Care; Virtual Dementia Tour—Deb Nygaard, Arthur’s Residential Care; and Dementia-Friendly ACTion Steps—Kathryn Ringham and Kathy Kehrberg, Wilder Foundation Memory Club.

Four afternoon talks will focus on successful caregiving. They will take place from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Thursdays from April 30 to May 21 at Roseville City Hall, 2660 Civic Center Drive.

The caregiver topics will be: Senior Gems/How Dementia Affects the Brain—Amy House, Senior Helpers Home Care; Practical Tips for Avoiding Power Struggles—Deb Nygaard, Arthur’s Residential Care; Becoming an Alzheimer’s Whisperer—Holly Eide, HealthStar Home Health; and Caregiver Stress/Burnout—Lori La Bey, founder of Alzheimer’s Speaks.

A second series of eight talks will be presented in October, with four films about Alzheimer’s issues to be shown on Sundays, two in September and two in November.


Volunteer opportunities

The Roseville ACT project is seeking volunteers to help expand two programs that help people with dementia and their families.

The Gathering, coordinated by Lyngblomsten, needs volunteers it will train to help with its day program at Centennial United Methodist Church in Roseville. It provides activities and social stimulation for people with early to mid-stages of memory loss. The program has a 20-client waiting list.

P.S. I Understand is a peer-support program of Wilder Caregiver Services that matches current caregivers of people with dementia and former caregivers it will train.

 

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