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Communicating with Persons with Dementia

Ominous reminders of impending “old” age assail us from every direction. From bold headlines informing us that an average of 8,000 baby boomers are turning 65 each day (and for the next 18 years), to constant advice for staying healthy by eating right and exercising - how can we ignore reality? In 2010, reality in the U.S. indicated that 40 million people were 65 or older, and 5.5 million of those were over 85. That was 13% of the total population; by 2030 those numbers will grow to 72 million senior citizens, or about 20% of the entire population. (source:

While retirement age status has many appealing aspects, increasing health concerns frequently  impact the lives of the seniors and their families and friends. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the all too common health challenges. Many of our beloved family members and Vashon neighbors are living with the difficult changes brought on by this disease. Reality requires everyone to cope daily with unfamiliar interactions when this diagnosis is made. Familiar activities and communication can become confusing and very stressful.

These difficult, age-related changes are part of life within our Vashon community. In an effort to offer supportive help, several island groups are collaborating to co-sponsor an afternoon program which will offer techniques and skills to help improve communication with Alzheimer’s patients. Staff members of the Alzheimer’s Association office in Seattle are coming on Wednesday, April 22nd to lead the educational program. Their presentation will include an educational video and ample time for discussion, questions and answers. The focus is on helpful strategies for care-givers in particular, and family and friends, to improve quality of life and minimize stressful behaviors.

“Communicating with Persons with Dementia” will be offered to the greater Vashon community by the Alzheimer’s Association on Wednesday, April 22nd. Co-sponsors of this program opportunity are the Vashon Senior Center, the Vashon Care Center and Vashon Presbyterian Church. The free program will be held downtown at the Vashon Presbyterian church and starts at 1:30 p.m. Refreshments will conclude the presentation by 3:30 p.m.

Look for the bright posters around town for more information. An RSVP is requested for those who want to attend in order to provide sufficient handouts - and chairs and cookies! Call the church at 463-2010 to respond or ask for further details. Please leave a message if necessary.