THAYER -- A local woman, Ruth Jewell, has formed a support group for caregivers of people who have alzheimers and dementia.
"I started this group because a family member of mine has alzheimers. Our first meeting was last month at the school. We only had five people present. I am hoping through this interview more people will find out about the support group and attend our meetings," she said.
The meetings will be the fourth Thursday of each month at Fun and Friends Senior Citizen Center in Thayer. The meetings will be from 7 to 8 p.m. This month's meeting will be Oct. 23.
The support group will discuss the different behaviors of people with alzheimers and dementia. Jewell said they are going to try and have a different speaker each month. They will discuss the medical and legal aspects of the disease.
"We will be discussing how this disease affects not only the patient but also the caregivers and family members," Jewell said.
Alzheimer's disease is a brain disorder named for German physician Alois Alzheimer, who first discovered the disease in 1906. Scientist have learned a lot about the disease in the century since it was first given attention to.
"This is a progressive brain disease. As many as five million Americans have the disease. It destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life," she said.
The disease gets worse over time, and it is fatal. Today it is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.
The group will also focus on dementia. This is a general term for the loss of memory and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life.
The local group is affiliated with the National Alzheimer's Association. It is a non-profit organization. The meetings will cost nothing.
"I am going to be making posters to promote the meetings. They will be put up in doctor's offices, drug stores, nursing homes and other places where people who deal with this illness can see them," Jewell said.
"There is no current cure for either disease but treatments for symptoms, combined with the right services and support, can make life better for the millions of people in the country living with the disease. Most of what has been learned about the disease has been discovered in the last 15 years," she said.
Jewell's family member moved in with her two-years ago and is declining in health. Physically the relative is fine. "It is just their state of mind. We will keep them home as long as we can," she said.
The two diseases do not affect any two people the same way.
"The support group meetings will be where caregivers can sit and talk about their frustrations as well as learn from each other. Hopefully, the invited speakers will help us learn how to give better care," Jewell said.
Any caregiver that needs to bring their family member to the meetings are welcome to do so. "There will be games available for them to play or they can talk and visit among themselves. They need to be kept active," she said.
Jewell emphasized the support group meetings were not just for Thayer residents. She wants all of Oregon County and the community of Mammoth Spring or other communities to know they are invited to the meetings.
"This is not easy. It is God's love and my faith in Him that keeps me going," she said.