Laval Alzheimer’s Society launches English program

Teaches families how to cope, not feel guilty

By Robert Frank

“Not knowing what to do or the proper way to react when a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease is extremely stressful,” Laval Alzheimer’s society president Lise Lalande told The Suburban in an interview.

To relieve that stress, has developed an eight-evening workshop that teaches family members what to expect—and how to cope.

“We try to hold five of these courses a year, but it’s so popular that sometimes we run as many as eight,” Lalande remarked. “Sometimes we run two workshops concurrently because the demand is so strong.”

Until now, all of the courses have only been offered in French.

“We want Laval’s English community to be as well-served as the French community, so we’re introducing the same service in English,” she enthused. “The first course will start at the beginning of April. It costs $50 for the entire, eight-night session and anyone who is interested in participating should call us.”

The Laval Alzheimer’s Society was able to translate its course materials into English, thanks to a grant from a fund put together by the Quebec government and the Chagnon family.

“It’s aimed at helping home caregivers—family members, not professionals—who take care of a loved one at home,” she explained. “Getting all the course documentation translated into English was a big undertaking.”

“We estimate that there are about 6,000 people in Laval—of whom about 700 are English-speakers—who suffer from various stages of Alzheimer’s,” she said.

“During the workshop, participants learn about the nature of Alzheimer’s and how to help their loved one without getting exhausted and ending up more physically ill than the person with Alzheimer’s,” Lalande recounted.

“We teach three modules on communication, because its very important to learn how to interact with the support system around the caregiver as well as with the person who has Alzheimer’s,” she continued. “In addition, we discuss the household environment: what needs to be done in the physical space that facilitates life for an Alzheimer’s victim, and why those changes have to be made to make it easier for all concerned.”

“The last module grapples with the toughest issue of eventually finding alternate living facilities,” she concluded. “Participants learn when to make that decision, how to reach it—and not feel guilty about it—plus how to go about finding and applying for accommodation as well as how to complain if the facility is not living up to your expectations.”

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