Caregivers conference provides Alzheimer's support - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Caregivers conference provides Alzheimer's support

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by Stephanie Byars   bio - email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - November is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness month.

It's also National Family Caregivers Month, which is appropriate considering those who suffer from Alzheimer's rely so much on caregivers.

The disease is a devastating diagnosis that affects those who suffer from it as well as those who care for those suffering.

And for caregivers, support is key. Todd Abernathy of Cape Girardeau shared his experience of his grandmothers fight with Alzheimer's Disease to help provide that support.

Abernathy and his grandmother, Barbara Goodenough, both served in the Navy, but he shared a deeper bond with the woman who once served in World War II and helped raise him.

He says Goodenough was a woman who was vibrant and full of life, but a few years ago that began to change.

"We had started noticing little things" Abernathy said. Eventually those little things got bigger. Mrs. Goodenough was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.

Abernathy says, as the stages progressed, he began to lose his grandmother.

"My mom often said she no longer was her mom, it just wasn't her anymore" Abernathy said.

Anyone with a loved one suffering from the disease knows how difficult it is to see this happen. "She had withered away to almost nothing. She was less than 100 pounds. She couldn't do anything anymore, couldn't remember how to eat" Abernathy added. In October of 2010, she passed away and was laid to rest with full military honors.

Abernathy says a strong family support system provided care for his grandmother, but it was still hard.

He has this advice for those who have a loved one suffering now.

"Get as much time in with them now while they have most of their memory because that will go away, there's no easy way to break that or nice way to say it" Abernathy said.

He says it was hard to see his loving grandmother change into a different person. He suggests to keep this in mind: "Don't take it personal, it's not them. It's not who they are, it's just the disease taking over" Abernathy said.

If you are a caregiver or have a loved one suffering for Alzheimer's Disease, you can find support and learn more at the Southeast Missouri Caregivers Conference. The conference is Friday, November 19, at First General Baptist Church at 1812 Lacroix Road in Cape Girardeau. The conference is 1pm-4pm.

Click here to register for the conference and learn more. You can also call 800-272-3900. Tuition is $5.

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