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Jefferson Office for the Aging offers caregiving help

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Jefferson County Office for the Aging has offered caregiving seminars throughout November to raise awareness of caregiving and Alzheimer’s.

With November being National Family Caregivers Month and National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, Jefferson County Office for the Aging Long-term Care Coordinator Sheila M. Kehoe said caregiving support is needed to ensure the well-being of both the caregiver and the person being cared for.

“Caregivers are basically the backbone of the American long-term care system,” she said, when reached by telephone Tuesday. “If they run to the store for their neighbor if they can’t get out, they’re a caregiver. Caregiving is anyone who provides assistance to someone who is incapacitated.”

She said the seminars, which took place each Tuesday since Nov. 1 at the county office, 175 Arsenal St., were held in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Association’s Central New York chapter. The seminar series replaced the Jefferson County Office for the Aging’s involvement in a caregiving conference this year.

Topics discussed throughout the weekly seminars have included learning about community resources, legal issues, basics of Alzheimer’s disease and dealing with challenging behaviors.

Ms. Kehoe said the final seminar, to be held at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the county office, will discuss caregiving tips and communication.

Learning how to communicate with someone who has Alzheimer’s, Ms. Kehoe said, can be more challenging as the disease progresses.

“Sometimes the way we talk, we recognize each other and what we say, but someone with Alzheimer’s may be so far in the disease they don’t know who they’re talking to,” she said.

The Alzheimer’s Association has a 24-hour help line, 1 (800) 272-3900, that caregivers can call if they feel frustrated or need guidance.

When a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, those close to that person often forget the network of available support, said Jared Paventi, chief communications officer of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Central New York chapter.

“It’s not jut a new beginning for the person diagnosed, but also the caregiver,” he said by telephone Tuesday. “As the disease progresses, I often liken caregivers to snowflakes: no two are the same.”

Because caregiving isn’t a solo venture, Mr. Paventi said, caregivers should make use of all resources in their area.

Ms. Kehoe said that includes local support groups. For more information on those and other caregiving resources, or to sign up for Tuesday’s seminar, call the Jefferson County Office for the Aging at 785-3191.

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