Support group aims to aid caregivers, families

MIFFLIN – An Alzheimer’s support group aimed at encouraging caregivers now meets from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. the second Monday of each month, in the hobby room at Locust Grove Retirement Village in Mifflin.

Jessica Wagner, a volunteer certified as a facilitator by the Alzheimer’s Association, leads the meetings.

“My job is to listen. My job is to direct them to resources,” Wagner said, adding that her personal experiences make Alzheimer’s a topic near and dear to her heart.

The support group started in January with a representative from the Alzheimer’s Association presenting basic information on communication and behavior when dealing with a loved one who has the disease. February’s meeting included an informational session on caregiver support.

The next meeting, which will be on April 14, will be the first true support group, during which members of the group can guide the discussion themselves.

“The response has been wonderful,” Wagner said. “It has actually grown in participation since we started it.”

While the group is intended primarily for direct caregivers, other family members affected by a loved one’s Alzheimer’s are welcome as well.

In some cases, it might even be beneficial to bring the person affected by the disease, but Wagner encourages family members to use common sense.

“(The family member) will need to take into consideration where they are in the disease and whether it would be beneficial or cause them more confusion to bring (the person) along,” she said.

Wagner said topics of conversation will include issues caregivers face and concerns they may have. The meetings are a time and place for them to bounce ideas off one another: what works for them in certain situations, communicating, dealing with behaviors and learning new and different ways to help loved ones during this time.

While Wagner is there to help, the group will be able to discuss any topics of interest to its members.

For more information on the support group, contact Wagner at 436-8921.

Additional information from the Alzheimer’s Association is available online at or by calling the association’s 24-hour support line at (800) 272-3900.