Alzheimer’s Society hosting support groups in Prince Albert

Jodi Schellenberg
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Caregivers of people with dementia need support too.

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The Alzheimer’s Society is hosting its monthly caregiver support group at the Herb Bassett Home chapel on April 7 at 7 p.m.

“We have been having our support group going on since December,” said Bronwen Porcina, Prince Albert’s First Link co-ordinator. “It is once a month and is located at the Herb Bassett Home in the chapel.”

According to Statistics Canada, 18,000 people in Saskatchewan have dementia and every year the amount of cases that have been diagnosed increase by about 3,000 people, Porcina said.

“Within Canada, there are 500,000 Canadians that have been diagnosed with dementia and more than 70,000 of those individuals are under the age of 65,” Porcina said. “More than 50,000 are under the age of 60.

“The amount of individuals under the age of 65 is really increasing,” she added. “We are seeing there is a younger crowd of people who are being diagnosed with dementia. We have also found that women make up 72 per cent of the overall 500,000 Canadians.”

The support group is one of the Alzheimer’s Society services to give people the ability to exchange information, form friendships with other affected by the disease, access the most current information and learn and share practical tips for coping with dementia.

“What I find with the majority of my clients is it is a place to express themselves and also to feel as if there is a support system outside of their friends and family,” Porcina said. “Dementia itself is a very difficult disease and it can put a lot of stress on caregivers and it can also put a lot of stress on extended family as well.

“It is nice for caregivers to have another source of support and strength and a place to laugh and build friendships and be able to express themselves in a place that they don’t feel as though they are being judged or that if they say things it would get out to the public,” she added.

So far the support group, led by volunteer Frank Suchorab, has been going very well, Porcina said.

“He has been our facilitator and I’ve been to a couple of them with him and he has been absolutely fabulous,” Porcina said. “He has worked in geriatrics for quite a while and he is wonderful. He has this really amazing way to bring things out in people and support them and we are really lucky to have him as a volunteer.”

She has heard a lot of positive feedback about the support group from others.

“People are really enjoying going,” she said. “It was a little bit slow at the beginning just because a lot of people do go away in the winter but we are definitely hoping for a large response and having more people come.”

Since the support group has had a great response, Porcina is hoping to start up a dementia coffee group together as well.

“The coffee club is open to individuals with dementia and caregivers,” Porcina said. “It is a place for people to be in an environment that is inclusive and supportive.

“It is a place where people with dementia and their caregivers can meet with other people who are going through a similar situation themselves, and just socialize and support,” she added. “It is a very come and go casual kind of thing.”

The coffee group would be less about discussing the disease and more about socializing with others in similar situations.

“Because of the disease of dementia a lot of people, depending on what progression they are in the disease, find it difficult to leave their home, socialize and be part of activities,” Porcina said. “This is going to be a new thing we are going to start to give people that socialization and that place to go and an environment to be included with in the community.”

She is currently in talks with a volunteer to run the group and would like to see it started by the end of the month.

Anyone interested in he support group or in starting a coffee group can contact Porcina at 306-922-2296 or

Organizations: Prince Albert, Statistics Canada

Geographic location: Alzheimer, Saskatchewan, Canada

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