Library program will look at life after a diagnosis of dementia

One of the toughest problems for families after a diagnosis of dementia is to figure out how to live a full life — both for the person with the diagnosis and for family members.

“It’s easy to get stuck there, to see only the diagnosis,” said Lori La Bey, an expert on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. “But the point is — with Alzheimer’s or any other major medical diagnosis — your life will be richer and more fulfilling if you concentrate on your opportunities.”

That will be the topic of a program from 1 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, at Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Ave. N. The event is part of a monthly series this year called Dementia: Caring & Coping, sponsored by the Roseville Alzheimer’s and Dementia Community Action Team (Roseville A/D), the City of Roseville and Ramsey County Library.

The topic will be “After a Diagnosis: I’m More than a symptom.” Speakers will be Krisie Barron and Janelle Johnson, both licensed social workers and frequent public speakers with extensive experience advising and training caregivers. Their talks are intended for people with dementia, their families and friends, and others concerned about how to make the most of their lives after a diagnosis of dementia.

La Bey, a member of Roseville A/D who helped organize the event, is a frequent national speaker who produces the Alzheimer’s Speaks Radio program, where she interviews other experts on a wide range of topics about dementia. She has been honored by AARP Minnesota, Maria Shriver, Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Barron will speak about “Navigating the Journey,” helping families stay in charge of the life journey instead of at its mercy after a diagnosis that can upend family plans and dreams. She also will have handouts from a new caregiver coaching tool she uses.

Johnson, who also is an attorney, will talk about how to use a person’s life story to help them navigate the difficulties of a dementia diagnosis. She also will discuss how to deal more effectively with difficult behaviors that dementia sometimes causes.

In addition, those attending will receive a handout offering a list of resources that can help families after receiving a dementia diagnosis.

The next program in the series will be on May 9 at the library. Called “Energizing Care Partners,” the event will focus on respite and other services that can help caregiver families be more effective and better able to cope with the stress of giving care.

Roseville A/D is a group of local volunteers from the city government, senior service organizations, the Roseville Area Senior Program (RASP), the library and elsewhere in the community. Since 2013, they have worked to help educate and support dementia caregiver families and the community.

 

—Warren Wolfe is a Roseville resident who retired from the Star Tribune, where he reported on aging and health care policy issues. He also is active in Roseville A/D.

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