Alzheimer Caregiver Conference
Courtesy of Anna Hodges

The Alzheimer’s Association will be hosting its annual spring Caregiver Conference on Friday, March 9, at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Alzheimer’s Association is a health organization dedicated to getting care and support for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Since Alzheimer’s affects over 5 million Americans and is the sixth-leading cause of death in America, the organization aims to gather funds for Alzheimer’s research, promote patient care and spread awareness of the disease and brain health.

The Mid South Chapter of the organization, which includes North Alabama and Tennessee, will be presenting the conference for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients.

“In 2016 alone, Tennessee caregivers delivered over six billion (dollars) in unpaid care for a loved one living with Alzheimer's disease,” Rebecca Williams, manager of development for the Knoxville office of Alzheimer’s Association, said. “We are extremely excited to be able to offer this caregiver conference to the Knoxville Community. Caregiving for someone living with Alzheimer's is a 24/7 job.”

The conference is particularly targeted toward the loved ones of people living with Alzheimer's. It will allow them to meet other caregivers and hear from speakers about caregivers and their relationships with their patients.

“The Caregiver Conference allows local caregivers some time to gather together and meet others who are going through the same issues,” Williams said. “It will be a day of education about the disease, where caregivers can learn how to better deal with the difficult situations and behaviors of Alzheimer's disease.”

The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. with guest speaker Roberto Fernandez from the Pat Summit Clinic discussing his research and distinguishing between facts and myths about the disease.

After Fernandez, a representative from the Johnson City office will be speaking on common struggles caregivers have while caring for their patients.

Brian LeBlanc, an early stage advisor for Alzheimer’s Association and keynote speaker from the Dementia Action Alliance, will discuss his own experience with Alzheimer’s.

Manager of programs at the Knoxville office of the Alzheimer’s Association Anna Hodges described the experience of caring for Alzheimer’s patients as “isolating.” Through the conference, she hopes that in addition to learning how to better care for their patients, caregivers will learn that they are not alone in their situations.

“The object of the conference is to tell people that they are, in fact, not alone, that there are tons of other people who are going through the same thing for them to connect with, that they have resources provided to them,” Hodges said. “They aren’t going through this alone.”

Through education and community, Hodges and Williams hope to see the conference better caregivers' experiences and lives, especially when it comes to their relationships with their loved ones who have Alzheimer’s.

“I hope that the families who attend the Caregiver Conference are able to learn something new about the disease and can take that knowledge and use it to help make something in their daily lives a little easier,” Williams said. “While there is no cure for Alzheimer's, the better educated we are about the disease, the more we can begin to understand the effects and outcomes for our loved ones. “

The event is free and open to all, and pre-registration is required.

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