Op-Ed

Alzheimer Society supports families

Alzheimer Society of Washington’s Staying Connected group walked in Bellingham in winter 2015.
Alzheimer Society of Washington’s Staying Connected group walked in Bellingham in winter 2015. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Alzheimer Society of Washington was established in 1983 and had about 60 volunteers in 2015.

Purpose: The Whatcom County population is aging. As this happens, more and more people in our community will be affected by dementia. The Alzheimer Society is here to support people through their dementia journey, through education, support and resources. These services come in the form of 16 support groups a month, free memory screenings, and Project Lifesaver tracking bracelets provided in partnership with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, to safely locate those who wander. The Alzheimer Society of Washington also offers an annual caregiver conference, this year featuring Teepa Snow, and a quarterly educational speaker series called HEAD Talks (Health Education About Dementia). Dementia affects more than just the person who has been diagnosed, but their family, friends and neighbors as well. The Alzheimer Society of Washington is here to help anyone whose life has been touched by dementia. Remember, you are not alone!

Volunteer highlights: We want to recognize a very special person who has demonstrated community spirit, commitment to the Alzheimer Society and support to some of the most vulnerable members of our community – people with memory impairment who may become lost. Tom Oliver has been a volunteer with Whatcom County Search and Rescue for years. His knowledge and concern make him especially aware of people with dementia who may wander and become lost. He became an Alzheimer Society volunteer and has devoted both time and funds to promoting Project Lifesaver and other similar radio transmitter bracelets designed to protect people who may wander and become lost. He regularly visits people throughout the county to replace batteries, to be sure the equipment is working properly and to be supportive of family care partners. And if a call comes in, no matter the time, Tom is right there.

Signature fundraiser: Our 5th Annual Affair to Remember – 007 Style! Gala will take place at BTC’s Settlemyer Hall on June 25 at 5 p.m.

Wish list: Copies of “The 36-Hour Day,” stamps, office products (such as copier paper), microwave, electric kettle, coffee/ tea, disposable plates, napkins (for support groups), $60 per month to cover Staying Connected group for those with dementia.

Current volunteer needs: We would love to meet a professional with experience in dementia care to facilitate support groups, either for people with dementia or their caregivers.

For more information, go online to alzsociety.org.

VOLUNTEER MONTH

April is National Volunteer Month and The Bellingham Herald has partnered with the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County to highlight local non-profit agencies that offer opportunities to become involved in our community. For more information online about the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County, go to whatcomvolunteer.org.

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