Keynote speaker stresses positivity; attendees adorn their ‘fighting purple’
Special to The Mississippi Link
A sea of purple attire was vividly seen throughout Anderson Hall of Mississippi College Nov. 12, as the Fifth Annual Central Conference on Alzheimer’s convened. Purple is the national color in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.
Held each year by the Alzheimer’s Association Mississippi Chapter, the conference raises awareness and educates caregivers and healthcare professionals on the latest developments pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease and research.
This year’s conference attracted more than 250 attendees – the largest conference to date. “This is my third year attending the conference,” said Delores Harper of Crystal Springs. She is a caregiver for a relative diagnosed with dementia. “I come so that I may get the education needed to help me as a caregiver,” Harper said. She expressed she learned a great deal of valuable information.
Conference keynote speaker Janet Edmunson, M.Ed, FAWHP stressed the importance of positive emotions for professional and family caregivers. “Our mindset matters,” Edmunson said. “We have to (learn) to flip negative thinking; (focus) on what went well today.”
A national presenter and business owner, Edmunson highly engaged conference attendees in a series of positivity exercises. In addition to flipping negativity, other recommendations included enhancing relationships, engaging in social activities and creating a positive personal development plan.
“There are more than 205,000 Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in Mississippi who provide 234 million hours of unpaid care,” said Patty Dunn, Alzheimer’s Association Mississippi Chapter executive director. “Caregivers face special challenges, and we are here to provide support services through educational opportunities and support groups.”
November is National Caregiver Month and in the U.S. there are an estimated 15 million Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers.
Break-out sessions included the following topics and presenters: “Managing Transitions of Care” by Ashley Parker, LCSW and Brian Heath Gordon, Ph.D.; “Dealing with Grief” by Julie Orr, MA, MCP, LPC and Mary Johnston-Nicholas, LMSW; and “Meaningful Activities” by Victor Smith, BS. Attorney Rick Courtney, CELA presented a general session on “Medicare vs. Medicaid and VA Benefits.” Sara Sanders, MD and Sue Ann Meng, LCSW presented a general panel discussion on “Behavioral Intervention vs. Medication.”
“All of our conferences have been great ones, but for some reason this year’s conference appears to standout as stellar,” said Chapter Board member Gail M. Brown. “Kudos to Patty, Sara and the conference committee, volunteers, exhibitors and all the outstanding sponsors and door prize contributors for a job well done.”
The Alzheimer’s Association presenting sponsor was the Mississippi Council on Developmental Disabilities. Additional conference sponsors were Home Instead, Covenant Caregivers, St. Catherine’s Village, UMMC The Mind Center, Merit Health, Gentiva, The Blake and St. Dominic’s.