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Alzheimer’s Association offers free virtual support groups

MARQUETTE — As COVID-19 continues to spike in Michigan leaving more residents feeling isolated, the Alzheimer’s Association Michigan Chapter announces its free December virtual support groups, education programs and social engagement programs for Marquette-area residents impacted by Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“We know the pandemic has brought about increased isolation and stress for persons with dementia and their caregivers,” said Jean Barnas, Alzheimer’s Association program services director, in a press release. “Our free support groups and education programs offer emotional and social support, provide much-needed information about memory loss and dementia, and help persons with dementia and their care partners find ways to remain socially active.”

While dementia does not increase risk for COVID-19, dementia-related behaviors, increased age and common health conditions that often accompany dementia may increase risk.

According to a recent Alzheimer’s Association analysis of CDC data from the past five years, people with Alzheimer’s and dementia are dying at a higher rate amid COVID-19. Nationwide, through the end of September, there have been at least 31,047 more deaths due to Alzheimer’s or another dementia nationwide than would be expected normally — 1,023 in Michigan alone.

“In Michigan, there are currently more than 190,000 persons living with dementia and over a half a million people acting as family caregivers,” said Alzheimer’s Association Program Coordinator Susan Evans in the release. “We know that so many caregivers are already managing jobs and other family demands in addition to caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia — and that COVID-19 has made caregiving even more stressful due to the limited availability of adult day centers, respite and social interaction.

“We want Michigan residents to know we are here to support them.”

Education programs include topics such as the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s, effective communication strategies, financial planning, healthy ways to love your brain and body, tips for caregivers amid COVID-19 and more.

To view and register for December programs and support groups, visit bit.ly/2J9sVSK or call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900 today.

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