Alzheimer’s conference planned

Published 6:18 pm Saturday, October 30, 2010

Alzheimer’s disease affects thousands of lives nationwide, including many in our own community.

“Living with Alzheimer’s” is the theme of the 20th Alzheimer’s Education Conference, which will be held Wednesday at the Hampton Roads Convention Center.

Medical and education experts will explore ways caregivers can enhance the daily activities of those living with Alzheimer’s, including cognitive exercises, the arts and the emerging Montessori method for Alzheimer’s care.

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“The conference is geared toward both professional and family caregivers,” said Patricia Lacey, director of education and family services for the Alzheimer’s Association Southeastern Virginia chapter. “The sessions will really hone in on practical ways to make daily activities meaningful, while revealing new caregiving strategies and the latest international research.”

Gerontologist Tom Brenner and Educator Karen Brenner, of Brenner Pathways, will give a presentation on using the Montessori method for Alzheimer’s care. The method uses muscle memory — which is used to read, ride a bike or play the piano — to stimulate different parts of the brain.

“Procedural, or muscle memory, tends to be less damaged in people with dementia and Alzheimer’s,” said Tom Brenner. “Because this muscle memory system may still be working properly in people who have dementia, the Montessori method can be used very successfully as a means to reach and engage people with memory loss.”

In addition to discussing the Montessori approach, the Brenners will explain how caregivers can find and build on the strengths and abilities of people living with Alzheimer’s while honoring their spirit.

Other conference highlights will include sessions on how to address behaviors in people with Alzheimer’s and how to work with a loved one when changes occur, how to help individuals use the senses to provide mental stimulation, keeping your loved ones safe in their living environment, enhancing the lives of individuals with dementia through the arts, setting up one-on-one activity stations for persons with dementia and a keynote address on the latest international research findings.

The conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. and includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Registration fees are $70 for professionals and $45 for families. Partial scholarships are available for families in financial need.

The conference schedule and registration forms can be found at www.alz.seva/org or e-mail

For more information, call 459-2405.