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Shining a light on dementia: Events planned for Dementia Awareness Week in area

BEMIDJI—Those who suffer from dementia and their caregivers will find both information and lot of community support during a variety of upcoming events held in recognition of Dementia Awareness Week.

Now in its third year, Dementia Awareness Week is hosted by the Northwoods Caregivers, a nonprofit group with the goal of helping those who are affected by the mental illness.

"We're very fortunate in the Bemidji area because there are a lot of services in this community for people; it's just a matter of getting folks connected with one of them, and then they can get connected with the others," said Northwoods Caregivers Caregiver Advocate Carol Priest.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, 11,000 Minnesotans between the ages of 65 and 74 had Alzheimer's Disease in 2014, and more than 75,000 Minnesotans age 75 and older were diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease that same year. Alzheimer's is just one of multiple forms of dementia, although it makes up about 70 percent of dementia cases.

Although there are a number of courses of action against dementia, one that is reportedly among the most significant is remaining socially active. Priest said that alone can help those who suffer from dementia.

"The worst thing people can do is to isolate themselves," Priest said. "One of the things I think is most important is socializing because that stimulates many different parts of your brain; you're learning new information (and) you're challenging yourself by keeping up with conversations. "

The weeklong schedule of events also is meant to help the caregivers who are often put under strain from their responsibilities.

"A lot of our services are specifically for caregivers," Priest said. "Being a full-time caregiver is extremely stressful. We know that caregivers for people with dementia need respite. They need a break on a regular basis to recharge and take care of themselves."

The events to be held during Dementia Awareness Week include:

Monday, Sept. 18

• 6 to 8 p.m. Know The Basics, Know the 10 Signs; Adult Day Services, 620 Carr Lake Road, SE., Bemidji.

Tuesday, Sept. 19

• 9 a.m. to noon. Planning as We Age; Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, 15542 Highway 371 NW, Cass Lake.

• 6 to 8 p.m. Welcoming LGBT Elders; First Lutheran Church, 900 Bemidji Ave. N., Bemidji.

Wednesday, Sept. 20

• Noon to 1 p.m. Dementia Friends; Red Lake Nation College, 15480 Migizi Drive, Red Lake.

• 1 to 3 p.m. Elder Connections Cafe; Senior Activity Center, 216 Third St., Bemidji.

Thursday, Sept. 21

• 6to 8 p.m. Basics and Beyond; Good Samaritan Community Room, 152 Margaret Ave., NW, Blackduck.

Friday, Sept. 22

• 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Legal and Financial Planning; Senior Activity Center, 216 Third St., Bemidji.

• 1 to 3 p.m. Understanding and Responding to Dementia-Related Behavior; Windsong Theater Room, 1010 Anne St., NW, Bemidji.

• 6 to 8 p.m. Conversations About Dementia; Adult Day Services, 620 Carr Lake Road SE, Bemidji.

Saturday, Sept. 23

• 9 a.m. Registration, 10 a.m. walk. Walk to End Alzheimer's; Sanford Center, 1111 Event Center Drive NE, Bemidji,

Jordan Shearer

Jordan Shearer covers crime and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. A Rochester native and Bemidji State grad, he previously spent several years in western Nebraska writing for the Keith County News. Follow him on Twitter @Jmanassa

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