A series of free community education classes will help people dealing with the heartbreaking challenge of Alzheimer's disease.
Kirsten Frantsvog, regional care consultant for the Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, will teach five sessions of the class, which will be held March 20, March 27, April 3, 10 and 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required and can be made by calling the Minot Public Schools Community Education office at 857-4488.
Class topics include many stages of Alzheimers: Know the 10 Signs, Basics of Alzheimer's Disease, Communication, Living with Alzheimer's Disease: the Middle stages, Living with Alzheimer's Disease: the Late stages.
"This class is for people of any age group," said Frantsvog, who said most people will have a family member or friend at some point who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.
Frantsvog said it is particularly important for anyone in the early stages of Alzheimer's, such as beginning to suffer memory loss, to seek treatment since medication can be prescribed that can slow the progression of the disease. There is no cure for the illness as yet.
Frantsvog will also discuss tactics to use in communicating with someone who is in the middle or late stages of Alzheimer's. Family members often want their relative with Alzheimer's to recognize them, but the person may be too far into the stages of dementia. Perhaps the Alzheimer's patient is 80 and is living in the past when she was in her 20s, before she had adult children. Frantsvog said it might help for the family members to bring along a picture of themselves as young children and allow the photograph to serve as a bridge between themselves and the patient. They may also call the patient by his or her first name and introduce themselves by their names.
Frantsvog also will talk about the different stages of the disease and the physical changes going on in the brain to help people understand what is happening.
Frantsvog does community education in communities across the region.