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Learning Series Provides Tools for Dementia Caregivers

​This January during Alzheimer Awareness Month, a national campaign launched by the Alzheimer Society is focusing on the fact that 72% of Canadians with the disease are women. They are also more likely to provide care to someone with dementia.

Thanks to a program offered by the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County, local caregivers are learning how to access the right tools to care for persons with dementia ­– and for themselves.

The First Link® Learning Series provides caregivers with a step-by-step guide to caring for someone with dementia, from diagnosis to end-of-life care. Each of the five sessions builds upon the previous one, ensuring that family and friends understand dementia, how it progresses, and what resources are available as caring for their loved one becomes more difficult.

One of the face-to-face sessions, Options for Care, is led by the Champlain Community Care Access Centre (CCAC). The free session offers information about home and community supports, the differences between retirement and long-term care homes, and how to apply for long-term care.

"It's important to have key community partners like the Champlain CCAC collaborate with the Alzheimer Society," says Monique Thibault, Manager of Programs, Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County. "Educational opportunities such as Options for Care are well received by families because they provide valuable information that helps them cope better as caregivers on the dementia journey."

As more people are diagnosed with dementia, the demand for educational opportunities like the First Link® Learning Series will continue to increase. Families are invited to contact the Alzheimer Society to learn more about and register for upcoming sessions in 2015.

Today, an estimated 15,000 people live with dementia in Ottawa and Renfrew County; in Canada, 747,000 people. By 2031, it is estimated that 1.4 million Canadians will have dementia.

"I truly believe in the importance of caregivers learning about the resources and support that are available at home and in the community. Public education like the First Link® Learning Series empowers caregivers to make informed decisions which can reduce the risk of caregiver stress and burnout," says Vicki Crawford, an educator at the Champlain CCAC.

More information about the Learning Series for caregivers can be found on the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County's website at: