OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Thousands of people in Nebraska are currently living with some form of dementia. While the focus is usually on the patient, we often forget about the ones who care for them. But the Nebraska Alzheimer’s Association is looking to shift that focus with an annual conference.
Around 300 people are expected to attend Friday’s Dementia Care Conference to not only hear about the latest research and work being done surrounding dementia but also to connect with other caregivers.
"If you look at Memorial Stadium on a Saturday that sea of red, is what we're looking at when you think about dementia in Nebraska,” said Clayton Freeman, the director of programs and public policy with the Nebraska Alzheimer’s Association.
About 37,000 people are living with Alzheimer’s disease in Nebraska. More than double that number are caregivers for someone who has been diagnosed, around 83,000. "Caregivers face the greatest stress, this disease is pry one of the hardest on caregivers,” said Freeman.
Freeman adds education can provide rest for caregivers. That's the focus of this annual Dementia Care Conference. “They can come and recharge their batteries, learn something new and be able to go back and apply that with their loved ones,” said Freeman, "the day is designed to provide an overview of the latest research, how to work with and understand the behaviors and communication issues around caring for someone with dementia.”
Rebecca Edelmayer is the Director of Scientific Engineering with the Alzheimer’s Association. She says understanding the need for research is essential in making advancements with this disease. "We recognize at this point the best way to get something that is going to be a treatment or something that's going to slow, stop or prevent Alzheimer’s disease, it's going to be through medical research,” said Edelmayer.
Freeman says awareness is more important than ever as people are now being diagnosed earlier. “We are now seeing in this country over 200,000 people under the age of 65,” he said.
Edelmayer says she hopes anyone who attends the conference walks away with one thing. “I want people to leave the conference having hope that research will really bring us to a place where we will find something that will slow, stop or prevent this disease,” she said.
This is the 11th year the conference is being held.