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Alzheimer’s expert plans talks in Fairmont

FAIRMONT — Alzheimer’s disease is still on the rise, with an estimated 94,000 Minnesotans affected by it or another form of dementia.

On Oct. 15, Dr. Joseph Gaugler, an expert on Alzheimer’s, will be in Fairmont to give presentations at Fairmont Evangelical Covenant Church. Times are 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The event is sponsored by CREST.

The gathering is open to anyone in the area who is touched in any way by the diagnosis of a form of dementia, whether it be individuals living with dementia, caregivers, professional caregivers or those who want more information.

Gaugler is the Robert L. Kane Endowed Chair in long-term care and aging at the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health. His research interests are in Alzheimer’s disease, long-term care and finding innovative ways to support families who care for relatives with memory loss.

Joyce Peterson, caregiver services coordinator at CREST, shared how Gaugler came to be scheduled to speak in Fairmont.

“I’ve heard him speak twice,” she said. “Once at an event in the Cities and once in Blue Earth. I spoke with him after and asked if there was a way that he could come to Fairmont and he said yes.”

Peterson said Gaugler’s goal is to speak in every county in Minnesota.

As Peterson pointed out, nearly everyone knows someone who has Alzheimer’s, whether it’s a relative, neighbor or someone you meet in a store. Speaking with someone who has Alzheimer’s or dementia requires a different form or communication, and it’s something that people need to learn about.

“Alzheimer’s is so much more prevalent than it was,” Peterson said. “I think it’s partially because people are living longer so we run into more disease processes as we go along and they intensify. This is one that truly intensifies as you age. We’re seeing a lot more of it and all the people in the community really have to get familiar with it so they recognize what’s going on with somebody.”

Fairmont’s Goldfinch Estates has a memory care unit that is full, while Temperance Lake Ridge in Sherburn is expanding its memory care side because of the need in the community. The same can be said for many other memory care facilities.

Peterson said CREST has sent notice of the event to area health care facilities, service clubs, and CREST’s volunteers, caregivers and care receivers. They also have advertised in area newspapers and church bulletins. They are having two presentation in the hopes that more people will be able to make it.

“He’s a very easy speaker to listen to,” Peterson said. “He can go into a deep subject, but you feel like you came out of it learning something because he makes it simple enough that you can grasp what he’s saying.”

CREST will offer a lunch of hot sandwiches, salad or chips and dessert after the 11 a.m. presentation, and cookies and beverages at the 2:30 presentation. RSVPs are requested by Oct. 11 so they can plan for refreshments. Call the CREST office at (507) 235-3833 for more information or to RSVP.

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