Dementia support services roll out in Lewis County

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WESTON, W.Va. (WDTV)- Monday in Lewis County people suffering from dementia and their caregivers saw the county's biggest step yet toward giving them more support. Looking at numbers from the West Virginia Alzheimer's Association, a group at the senior center learned more than 500 people are living with some form of dementia in the county. But it's a number even greater than that those people want to help.

The faces from that room are people you may see more often around the county giving presentations to spread awareness about dementia. If you're a caregiver, you may see them in a training session or a support group. These services are new; what's not new to people with family members with dementia is the struggle.

"It's a very emotional experience," said Linda Schmidt, who cares for several of her family members with dementia. "It's very sad to see this happening to somebody that you know and love and know that they have been a different person. To see them change is the most difficult part."

Schmidt will go through training to give presentations about her experiences. She hopes it will be a tribute to her family members if their experiences and hers can help others.

"Perhaps what makes it so difficult is each person, each caregiver, family member comes to this a little bit differently," she said. "The more you can learn the better you can make life for the person. The support for the caregiver too is very critical, I think, because it can be very overwhelming."

'Overwhelming' is also how social workers at the senior center describe the need for these services.

"I think a lot of times these folks sort of suffer behind closed doors," said Tracy Wine. "It's not something people talk about a great deal or they don't know how to talk about it or are embarrassed to talk about it. So I think this brings some daylight into it and gives the opportunity to help people feel better and do better in their care giving role."

The social workers encourage you to call the senior center if you're in a spot like Schmidt. The support groups will meet once every month.