New at the Senior Center: A Dementia Support Group
Last updated 11/12/2021 at 1:01pm
When Joy McBride moved to Borrego Springs from Wisconsin this year, she began looking for volunteering opportunities.
She was quickly snatched up by the Chamber of Commerce, holding down the office in the morning, and as volunteer coordinator for Borrego Days.
Then, she discovered the Senior Center, and found a program need she could fulfill – a Dementia Support Group. A volunteer activity where she could use her years as a medical social worker, hospital and nursing home experience to help caretakers and family members, caring for people suffering from severe memory loss.
The Dementia Support Group is held at the Borrego Senior Center on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month and runs from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
“Most of the people in the group right now are caregivers. We give them a place to share their experiences and concerns, as well as memory improvement tips and problem solving,” McBride said. “However, people encountering memory loss are always welcome.”
According to McBride, whose mother had dementia, “There’s a standing offer to family members and even kids to come to the group to learn how it feels for the person with dementia, and techniques to deal with behavior changes as dementia progresses.”
“Also, the emotional and physical burden of caring for someone with dementia can be overwhelming. Support groups can often help caregivers deal with these demands and they can also offer helpful information about the disease and its treatment. It is important that caregivers occasionally have time off from round-the-clock nursing demands.”
How does the person with dementia feel?
McBride described it this way. “Once, when my daughter told me she had thought about stopping to see her grandmother, and then decided not to because, ‘she doesn’t even know me,’” McBride said.
“I explained, your grandmother, like most dementia patients, may not be able to engage in coherent conversations or recognize you, but she feels isolated and alone… that’s feelings. A visitor, even if the dementia patient doesn’t know them, makes them feel good and happy, less lonely, and the good feelings last for some time.”
Some natural ways to improve memory and reduce the risk of dementia are: Eat less added sugar; try a fish oil supplement; make time to meditate; maintain a healthy weight; get enough sleep, naps are good; practice mindfulness; drink moderate amounts of alcohol; cut down on refined carbs; exercise more (healthy exercise in mid-life can even prevent dementia in older adults); consume anti-inflammatory foods; add some dark cocoa for antioxidants; play games that challenge the brain; do crossword puzzles and learn a new language.