July 28, 2021

Dementia Friendly Heard County seeks local caregivers

(Franklin, GA) — Are you taking care of a loved one with dementia or do you know someone who is? If so, there are people that want to help you.

A local support group is looking to connect with both dementia patients and their respective caregivers here in Heard County.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders from churches, local law enforcement agencies, businesses, and other local government agencies came together with the goal of making Heard County a ‘Dementia Friendly’ community.

Emily Rogers, Deputy Director of the Three Rivers Regional Commission/Area Agency on Aging organized the group that has already received a small grant from the Georgia Gerontology Society, a non-profit organization that educates, serves and advocates for older adults and their families in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Human Services, Division of Aging Services.

A Dementia Friendly Community is one where all people can live, age, and thrive, including those living with dementia and their care-partners.

The Dementia Friendly group now wants to take the next step of locating those caregivers and their loved ones in order to determine what resources and avenues of support are needed most.

If you are a dementia caregiver or know someone who is you are asked to contact Emily Rogers by phone at 678-972-0481 or by email at erogers@threeriversrc.com.

Caregivers will be provided with a questionnaire and all those who participate will be eligible for a drawing to win a $50 gas or grocery card. The deadline for the drawing is Friday, August 28.

All dementia caregivers are eligible to participate and Rogers says that some people may not even realize they are caregivers.

“Many people that are taking care of family members with dementia may not even call themselves “caregivers,” These folks may just think of themselves as a son, daughter, spouse, or sibling — but they are indeed caregivers and we want to reach out to them as well,” says Rogers.

Rogers spoke earlier this year about the importance of making Heard County Dementia Friendly.

“We think it is very important to begin this process of making Heard County Dementia Friendly. Heard County is rural, with limited access to health care and education surrounding dementia,” says Rogers.

“Georgia’s population of individuals 65+ is 13.9%, whereas Heard County’s population over 65 is 17.5%. Another relevant factor, median income in Georgia is $52,977, while in Heard County it is only $44,897.”

The deputy director says that disability rates that are nearly double the state average also add to the need for the Dementia Friendly program in the county.

“Disability rates under 65 in Georgia are about 8.8%, but in Heard County, it is almost double at 15.2%. It is logical to infer, the target initiative group suffers disproportionately as they continue to age in our area,” adds Rogers.

Dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms including impaired memory and thinking. Alzheimer’s is one cause of dementia. There are over 200 causes.

Studies show that people directly affected by dementia can have the most important role in any dementia-friendly community.

By sharing their experiences and connecting with others, they ensure that communities keep the needs of people affected by dementia at the heart of everything they do.

Three Rivers Area Agency on Aging plans, coordinates, and administers programs for older adults, caregivers, persons with disabilities, and grandparents raising grandchildren as well as provides a vital link to information and assistance for programs and services available in the 10 county region of West Central Georgia.

Once again, if you are a Heard County dementia caregiver or know someone who is please contact Emily Rogers by phone at 678-972-0481 or by email at erogers@threeriversrc.com.

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