HAMLET – Richmond Community College hosted a seminar earlier this month to heighten community awareness of dementia and its effects on society, but more so its direct impact on the local community.
A coalition of agencies came together to offer insight and information about this widespread issue. Primarily facilitated by The Alzheimer’s Association, the session included representatives of the Lumber River Area Agency on Aging (a subsidiary of the Lumber River Council of Governments), the Cape Fear Council of Governments, the Rockingham Police Department, the Richmond County Department of Social Services, and senior centers in Rockingham and Ellerbe.
The council of government agencies (Cape Fear and Lumber River) offer services for 12 and five counties, respectively; both include Richmond County in their areas of focus.
Robby Hall, director of Richmond County Social Services, noted the positivity of, “all of us working together to do more for seniors, especially in the areas of dementia and Alzheimer’s.”
Judy Tyndall, director of the Ellerbe Senior Center, echoed Hall’s sentiments, citing the availability of training for any volunteers wishing to help with elderly care or assistance.
The statistics as provided by representatives of The Alzheimer’s Association were sobering. As of 2015, there were 7,514 persons age 65 or more residing in Richmond County. Of these, 834 had been diagnosed with some degree of dementia (roughly 11 percent) and of those, 265 lived alone.
Issues pertinent to dementia and ways to improve our approach to such were identified during the three-hour seminar. It was noted that some supermarkets could be more “elderly friendly” in regard to the placement of items and signage, and that businesses could be trained as to better ways of addressing scenarios involving senior citizens in general, if not in fact dementia sufferers in particular.
The Lumber River Area Agency on Aging (LRAAA) offers many services that can assist with the issues associated with (and precipitated by) dementia. With a mission of serving older adults and their families in the counties of Bladen, Hoke, Richmond, Robeson, and Scotland, the LRAAA is part of the National Network set in place by the Older Americans Act of 1965.
They offer multiple levels of services (information, assistance, advocating, planning, education, training) and work with advisory committees in each of their regional counties to enable older adults age 60 and beyond to live independently in their own homes. The LRAAA can be can be reached at 910-618-5533 or via their website at www.LRCOG.org.
Dr. Courtenay O’Donoghue, director of program services for the Charlotte chapter of The Alzheimer’s Association, noted that she can be contacted at 800-272-3900, or via their website at www.alz.org/northcarolina.
The Cape Fear Council of Governments Project C.A.R.E. (Caregiver Alternatives to Running on Empty) representative Family Consultant Audrey Marshall is available at 910-395-4553 (extension 212), and can also be contacted via their website at www.CapeFearCog.org or her e-mail at AudreyM@CapeFearCog.org.