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Support available for caregivers of Alzheimer’s, dementia patients

A support group for people caring for loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia will hold its first meeting Sunday at the Jimmy Furlow Senior Center in Brookhaven.

The hourlong meeting starts at 4 p.m. Anyone with concerns that a loved one may soon face those disorders can also attend.

The support group plans to meet at least once a month, said Lance Newman. He will facilitate Sunday’s meeting, and is one of seven individuals locally who have completed training provided by Alzheimer’s Mississippi.

The idea to start a local support group came after First Baptist Church Brookhaven held two meetings for caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s. Eight people attended the first meeting and 15 attended the second, Newman said.

People began to see the need for a support group in the community, he said, and decided to start a Brookhaven group through the state organization.

Caregivers are hungry for help and understanding, said AM Executive Director T.J. Harvey.

“Most people attending these groups are trying to understand what the disease process is and want tips from other caregivers, resources and access to social workers,” Harvey said.

“It’s about learning how to be a caregiver at home and to reduce stress.”

Newman said the first meeting will mainly be “just to talk. We want to have an environment where caregivers feel free to talk and can have a break and an hour away from home.”

Fundraisers will be held in the future and the group will be looking for volunteers, he said.

AM gives 100 percent of all funds raised for programs and services in Mississippi, and to advocate for research, officials said. The non-profit organization is not affiliated with a national organization by a similar name.

Officials said AM’s mission is to provide care and support for Mississippi residents affected by Alzheimer’s disease in all of the state’s 82 counties, and to advance statewide research to find a cure.

The organization has more than 30 family support groups around the state. There are three others in southwest Mississippi — Natchez, Rolling Fork and Vicksburg.

More information about AM can be found online at alzms.org. Its office is located in Ridgeland.

Story by Robin Eyman