WYOMING – The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) will be hosting a virtual educational conference for Wyoming residents on Thursday, April 15 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The conference is free and open for anyone to attend.
The conference is a part of the AFA’s 2021 national Educating America Tour. The conferences are geared towards caregivers and allow them the opportunity to hear from specialists and ask them questions directly.
“I started this initiative four years ago, the Educating America Tour,” said Charles Fuschillo, Jr. President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. “I felt it was critically important to provide the knowledge and empower individuals to deal with this situation,”
This year, the AFA will accomplish visiting all 50 states since the Educating America Tour started four years ago. There are 16 events scheduled for this year and the plan is to hold them virtually unless it’s safe to host in-person events in summer and fall.
Even though the pandemic made things difficult for people across the country, the AFA was able to seamlessly transition to a virtual setting last year on March 17.
“A year ago, on March 17, I made the decision to go remote,” Fuschillo said. “That day we were up and running, all our staff was connected, and all of our programs kept going.”
Fuschillo said the AFA has also been able to expand the hours of the helpline and have expanded their virtual therapeutic program to seven days a week. Fuschillo estimates close to one million people have viewed programs offered by the AFA from March to December of 2020.
For the upcoming Educating America Tour conference in Wyoming, there will be three different speakers attending the conference.
The first speaker is Robin Barry, Ph.D., who is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Wyoming and is the Project Director for Enhancing Dementia-Capable Wyoming and Program Evaluator at the Wyoming Center on Aging. She will be speaking about the importance of relationships for people with dementia and their family members.
“Learning to attribute difficult behaviors to dementia instead of the person with dementia can be really helpful for caregivers,” Barry said. “It takes away that blame aspect and the tendency to sort of take things personally.”
With the pandemic is still affecting our daily lives, Barry makes it a point to talk about how social isolation is difficult for everyone, but even more so when it comes to people with dementia. A lot of those interactions for caregivers with their dementia patients differs greatly based on what stage they are at in the disease.
“When people are in the early stages, they can function quite normally a good majority of the time,” Barry said. “Later in the disease process, it does get a lot more challenging.”
The second speaker at the conference is Kelly Davis, an elder law attorney with the firm of Davis, Johnson & Kallal, LLC, based in Cheyenne and a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, who will speak about the importance of planning ahead and setting up an effective power of attorney for dementia patients.
The final speaker is Stella Montano, President of Life Link of Sheridan County, Sheridan Chamber Ambassador for AARP and a member of AARP Wyoming. Montano will provide caregivers with different strategies they can use to assist their dementia patients on their caregiver journey.
With the AFA being able to host their Educating America Tour seminars virtually, it’s been vitally important for more rural states like Wyoming where not everyone can easily travel to a centralized location.
“You look at Wyoming, you have over 10,000 people living with Alzheimer’s disease and about 30,000 caregivers,” Fuschillo said. “This impacts over 40,000 people and we feel it’s critically important that they know they can turn to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America for support services.”
If you would like to attend the conference or receive more information, go to www.alzfdn.org/tour. If you are unable to participate in the virtual conference or have questions about Alzheimer’s disease, you can connect with a licensed social worker seven days a week through AFA’s toll-free helpline by calling 866-232-8484 or web chatting at www.alzfdn.org.