Free presentation Sunday at Holyoke Senior Center

HOLYOKE – A nationally recognized dementia care expert who works with the National Association of State Veterans Homes will provide a free community presentation at the Holyoke Senior Center on Sunday from 2-4 p.m.
Heather McKay, a licensed occupational therapist and president of the North Carolina-based Partnerships for Health, will discuss and highlight specific strategies from her more than 15 years of experience in working with health care professionals and family members.
The presentation is sponsored by the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, the City of Holyoke Council on Aging, and the City of Holyoke Department of Veterans’ Services. A representative from the Massachusetts and New Hampshire Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association will also be available to answer questions.
Health care professionals and family caregivers will gain a greater understanding of dementia, its symptoms, and progression. The purpose of the presentation is to help recognize common problems both professionals and family caregivers face in early, middle and late stages of the disease.
Although the Nov. 2 program is free and all are welcome, reservations are appreciated and may be made by calling the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke at (413) 532-9475, Ext. 532-1122.
McKay says she has learned that caregivers and family members alike need much more education in how to care for a loved one with the disease.
With a shortage of workers in long-term health care, nurse professionals today are hungry for information on how to deal with an elder population that is increasingly more complex with more chronic distress, says McKay.
Nearly 80 percent of all nurses surveyed, for example, have expressed interest in more dementia and geriatric education, she says.
Recognizing changes along the progression of the disease can feel like detective work, so McKay says the key to supporting someone with the disease is to better understand the timeline of dementia.
For example, few people know or understand that the progression of the disease runs in multiple stages. McKay describes five stages to the disease and then discusses strategies that work to support people at every stage, using anecdotes and real stories from her experience. People who care for a loved one with dementia are faced with difficult questions, from typical problems such as driving and taking medications to making decisions about future plans and how to make the time they spend with their loved one as purposeful as possible.
Family members often want their parent or spouse to live in our world. But with dementia, they can’t anymore, says McKay. Instead, when faced with a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the message for individuals and families is that they need not go it alone.

To Top