How do you talk to a loved one who can’t remember your name? How do you fulfill their wishes if they can’t communicate them?
Caregivers who have loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia encounter these emotionally draining questions and much more every day. That’s why Ginger McMurchie, facilitator of the El Dorado Hills Senior Center’s Caregiver Support Group and owner of Elder Care Management of Northern California, encourages everyone to have tough conversations now to avoid even tougher situations in the future.
“To be caught unaware about your loved one’s wishes is very sad,” the geriatric care manager said.
She encourages families to have conversations about end of life issues and advanced directives — admittedly heavy topics — “before the crisis happens.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern California and Northern Nevada, 580,000 people are living with the disease in California and that number is expected to jump to 840,000 by 2025. The benefits of thoughtful planning for the future are immeasurable and McMurchie will share her knowledge on the subject at the Sept. 20 Alzheimer’s Caregiver Workshop at Holly Trinity Parish in El Dorado Hills.
McMurchie is herself a caregiver, looking after her 93-year-old mother and 92-year-old father-in-law, and said in addition to knowing how your loved one wishes to be treated, it’s important to have a support system that helps the caregiver work through this difficult time.
“For many people, there’s no safety net for the journey that they’re on, no one who understands exactly what they’re going through,” she explained. “Talking with someone really gives them a feeling of belonging, acceptance and understanding.”
The El Dorado Hills Senior Center’s Caregiver Support Group (sponsored by the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association) meets once a month and between 15 and 30 caregivers participate. McMurchie said she sees the transformation caregivers go through — from quiet participants to mentors.
The Alzheimer’s Caregiver Workshop has a similar goal: “to nurture mind, body and spirit by learning from professionals, problem solving, connecting socially … and visiting with community resource representatives.”
Keynote speakers will be McMurchie, who will discuss “Thoughtful Planning for Change”; Dr. Shawn Kile, co-medical director of the Sutter Neuroscience Institute Memory Clinic giving an Alzheimer’s research update; and Dementia Whisperer Laura Wayman, director of Dementia Care Education and Training for Comfort Keepers, covering “Everything You Wanted to Know About Dementia But Were Afraid to Ask.”
The event is open to anyone who is affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia. It runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Holy Trinity’s social center, 3111 Tierra de Dios in El Dorado Hills, and also includes additional presentations, drawings and brunch.
A Q & A panel of professionals features Wanda Demarest, program director of the El Dorado County Day Care Services Center; Ester Lara, MSW, UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center; Ginger McMurchie; Michelle Nevins, MBA, Del Oro Caregiver Resource Center; John Parker, M.Div. Chaplain, Snowline Hospice; and Laura Wayman.
Resource tables will include information from Dementia Care Education and Training for Comfort Keepers, Elder Care Management of Northern California, Health & Wellness Coach Sara Valentine, Alzheimer’s Association of Northern California & Northern Nevada, Oakmont of Folsom, Ponte Palmero, Cedar Ravine Rehab Group, Del Oro Caregiver Resource Center, El Dorado County Health & Human Services Family Caregiver Support Program, The El Dorado Hills Senior Center, UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Snowline Hospice, Senior Day Care Services (which recently opened its day car facility in El Dorado Hills), Harlow’s Help at Home, Visiting Angels, Homewatch Caregivers, Eskaton Village Placerville, Eskaton Village Gold River, HICAP Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy program, A Helping Hand In Home assisted living, Friends of Seniors, California Phones/Sacramento CTAP, Partners in Care of El Dorado County and El Dorado County Veteran Affairs.
Reservations for the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Workshop are required by Wednesday, Sept. 10, and the cost is $15 per person. Proceeds will benefit the Alzheimer’s Associaiton and Holy Trinity’s Human Concerns Ministry. For more information call (530) 677-3234. Participants who need someone to care for a loved one while they attend the workshop could qualify for free respite, in-home care. Call the Del Oro Caregiver Resource Center at 1-800-635-0220, El Dorado County Family Caregiver Support Program at (530) 621-6151 or Comfort Keepers at (916) 560-9100 by Friday, Sept. 5.