WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Living in a small community can be challenging for caregivers who seek support, and local resident Karin Von Kay is hoping to make it easier for those who are supporting someone with dementia.
Von Kay, a Dementia Friends Champion, volunteers her time to provide free support and education for those taking care of someone with dementia.
“I get my fuzzies by people getting the message and understanding what they can do differently, more positively to work with people who are memory impaired,” Von Kay said.
Von Kay offers Dementia Friends sessions, hour-long information meetings that cover five key messages about dementia through activities and discussions.
“I share with them the five key messages about dementia, we look at the 10 normal signs of changes as we age versus symptoms of something that could be more serious. And then we talk about communication, listening, speaking, trying to understand things from the perspective of the person who has this disease.
Dementia Friends is a global movement developed by the Alzheimer’s Society to help everyone in a community understand key points about dementia, including how it affects people and how people can make a difference in the lives of those living with the disease.
“Dementia is the umbrella that Alzheimer’s and other impairments associated with memory loss fall under,” Von Kay said.
Von Kay said she does one-on-one talks and can organize group sessions, primarily in Flagstaff and Williams.
“I often get responses from people who say ‘I didn’t realize that, this is what I can do differently,’” she said.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association Desert Southwest Chapter, an estimated 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s today. One of every three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease of the brain for which no cure currently exists. Alzheimer’s is not considered a normal part of aging.
In addition to Von Kay’s assistance, caregivers can also find help by joining one of several support groups, including Brookdale Senior Living at 2100 South Woodlands Village Blvd. every third Wednesday at 6 p.m., and San Francisco de Asis Catholic Church at 1600 E. Route 66 on the second and fourth Tuesday at 10 a.m.
The Alzheimer’s Association also offers early stage programs that help engage and educate people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and their loved ones. The group also has information about MedicAlert and Safe Return to help first responders locate individuals who become lost. Scholarships are available for eligible families.
A helpline specialist for the Alzheimer’s Association is available by calling (800) 272-3900.
The Dementia Friends program is offered through Northern Arizona Healthcare. More information is available from Von Kay at (928) 607-9783 or Karin.Vonkay@nahealth.com.