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Heritage Program for Seniors at VCHS Launches Alzheimer's Support Group

ORD, Neb. – The Heritage Program for Seniors at Valley County Health System (VCHS) has partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association to offer a free weekly Early Stage Support Group in Ord beginning in June 2017.

Alzheimer’s – a progressive disease with no known cure – causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior that can, if severe enough over time, greatly interfere with daily tasks. This new local support group focuses on individuals diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, as well as their caregivers.

The support group will have eight sessions from June 12 – Aug. 7, 2017, 5:30-6:45 p.m. The sessions will take place at VCHS Hospital at 2707 L St., Ord, and held in private meeting rooms to ensure participant confidentially and provide the best support group experience possible.

The Heritage Program’s Riley Smith, PLCSW, PLMHP and Macaela Haas, PLMHP, will facilitate the meetings.

“Alzheimer’s disease and dementia continue to affect a growing number of Americans every year,” Smith said. “With an aging population, VCHS recognizes the importance of partnering with the world’s leading voluntary Alzheimer’s health organization – the Alzheimer’s Association – to facilitate a support group locally.”

The first half of each meeting will focus on education and include both the diagnosed individual and their caregiver(s). During the second half of the meeting, the diagnosed individuals will meet as a group, as their caregivers meet as a separate group; this part of the meeting focuses on emotional support to help individuals cope with the lifestyle changes that accompany a diagnosis.

“Alzheimer’s can be a scary diagnosis for the diagnosed individual, their families and their caregivers. Education and emotional support are critical – for all involved – in helping individuals plan for the future and lead healthy, fulfilling lives to the greatest extent possible as the disease progresses,” Haas said.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s affects individuals younger than age 65, and of the five million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, an estimated 200,000 American have early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Registration is required. Individuals who are interested in participating in the Early Stage Support Group at VCHS may contact the Heritage Program for Seniors at VCHS at 308.728.4340, or Alzheimer’s Association representative Diane Hendricks, LCSW, at 402.502.4301 x. 8251 or dhendricks@alz.org.

“Given our area’s demographics and related health needs, the addition of this Early Stage Support Group shows VCHS’s continued commitment to providing needed progressive and compassionate health services in our communities,” Smith said.


Pictured (seated, l to r): Riley Smith, PLCSW, PLMHP and Macaela Haas, PLMHP, at an Alzheimer's Association training