New mid-Missouri group brings support for Alzheimer's patients

Thursday, January 9, 2014 | 4:28 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Mid-Missouri residents facing the  insidious effects of Alzheimer's have a new outlet for support.

The Alzheimer's Association Greater Missouri Chapter will start a new early-stage support group on Jan. 16 for people in the preliminary stages of dementia.


TOUGH CHOICES: An estimated 15 million people in the U.S. take care of someone with Alzheimer's disease without pay. The nature of the disease can make care-giving particularly challenging. (This story is available to Missourian digital members.)

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"I envision this support group as one where participants can openly and safely ask questions or disclose fears while celebrating life with each other," said April Bernhardt, support group facilitator.

This type of support can help those affected by dementia by learning from peers who have had similar experiences. 

"They come together with like interests," said Joetta Coen, associate director of programs and services. "They might have given up driving and work and can ask 'What did you do?"

The Alzheimer's Association outlines 10 early warning signs for Alzheimer's and dementia.

"Memory loss is the first thing we think about," Coen said. "Like 'What did I eat for breakfast this morning?' or paying a bill twice or not paying it for months."

The most important step to take if any of the early waring signs are detected is to talk to a doctor.

"Express your concerns to the ones closest to you," Coen said. "It is not just a normal part of aging."

The group will meet at 9 a.m. on the third Thursday of every month at Tiger Place, 2910 Bluff Creek Drive. Call 443-8665 to register. The Alzheimer's Association offers a range of support groups for people with Alzheimer's and dementia and their caretakers.

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