Dr. Elisabeth Drance, professor psychiatry at U.B.C. will speak at the next dementia webinar session on Aug. 5, hosted by the Alzheimer Society of BC. Free webinars are being offered to Prince Rupert residents who are living with or caring for those with dementia. (Photo supplied by Alzheimer Society of BC)

Weekly online seminars offered by Alzheimer Society of BC

Webinar sessions provide emotional support and training for Rupert caregivers to those with dementia

A series of webinars to offer emotional support and training for caregivers of those with dementia in the Prince Rupert regions is being offered by the the Alzheimer Society of B.C. The society will host free dementia education webinars every week until August, for anyone affected by dementia or interested in learning more.

“Caring for someone living with dementia takes a tremendous toll on a care partner’s physical and emotional health,” the society said in the announcement of the seminars.

To help Prince Rupert caregivers, the non-profit Alzheimer Society of B.C. is teaming up with geriatric psychiatrist and certified mindfulness meditation teacher, Dr. Elisabeth Drance, to provide free online educational workshops, the Society said.

Dementia is a term that describes a general group of brain disorders. Symptoms include the loss of memory, impaired judgment, and changes in behaviour and personality. Dementia is progressive, degenerative and eventually terminal.

Elisabeth Drance is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, and has been working with Providence Health Care’s Dementia Caregiver Resilience Team since the inception in 2017.

The first webinar session which was held on July 15, focused on mindfulness practice, and the benefits to the care partner and the person they are supporting.

Drance said she has seen the benefit of mindfulness practice in her own life throughout her care-giving journey with both parents.

“We are often distracted when we are in conversation with our family member – thinking about the next thing to get done, or the last challenging interaction we just had. This means that often we aren’t mentally present when trying to connect! I like to call this “mindless care” and it often doesn’t go well,” Drance said.

“Mindfulness – being truly attentive to the present moment experience without judgment – supports self-care for the caregiver, and supports interactions that are more wise and aware.”

The second session, titled “Self compassion: A key skill for building resilience on the dementia care-giving journey” will be held on August 5 at 2 p.m. It will focus on the essential skill of self-compassion for dementia caregivers.

“Supporting a family member with cognitive change inevitably leads to challenges and missteps. Self-compassion helps care partners to rebound from these events with greater effectiveness,” the Society said.

The schedule of webinars for anyone affected by dementia or interested in learning more includes:

* Caregiving during COVID-19 : An overview of tips and strategies for families coping with dementia-related challenges that may arise because of COVID-19. The session will be on July 22, 2 p.m.

* Building caregiver resilience for the dementia journey: The skill of self-compassion. The webinar will be Aug. 5, 2 p.m.

* Understanding dementia: Learn how dementia affects a person’s brain and behaviour, as well as the disease’s impact on family. Session will held Aug. 12, 2 p.m.

* Understanding communication: Explore how communication is affected by dementia and learn effective communication strategies. Webinar will be on August 19, 2 p.m.

To register for any of these webinars, visit alzbc.org/webinars.

K-J Millar | Journalist
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