District woman providing Alzheimer support locally

Heather Latter

Eleanor Barron of Barwick recently was hired by the Alzheimer Society of Kenora and Rainy River Districts as the “First Link” and public education co-ordinator for Fort Frances and surrounding area.
“Her role will be to provide education and support to families coping with Alzheimer’s,” explained Lynn Moffatt, executive director of the local organization, which is based in Kenora.
“We are very excited to have a part-time position to service the Rainy River District area,” Moffatt added.
Barron, who previously has worked for the local Canadian Mental Health Association providing caregiver support through its Older Adults Program, is looking forward to supporting people in the area with education and resources for Alzheimer’s disease.
“Sometimes people are unaware of the resources available to them,” Barron explained.
“The situation is too overwhelming, and they may just leave things as they are until a crisis comes up and they just can’t handle it anymore.
“This can prepare them before that happens so they have things in place already,” she reasoned.
Prior to the creation of Barron’s new position, the organization had a co-ordinator to provide these services in both Rainy River District and Kenora District.
“She was travelling to Fort Frances and the Emo area once a month to provide service,” Moffatt noted.
But given the aging population now that the “baby boomers” are turning 65, the need for a locally-based co-ordinator grew.
Moffatt said the organization currently is aware of more than 1,000 people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia in the Kenora and Rainy River districts.
“We need to provide more support for those families,” she stressed, citing one of their new initiatives was to offer this position, as well as in Kenora and Dryden.
One of Barron’s focuses will be with a new program called “First Link.”
“As soon as someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, we then provide the families and the individual with education and support, and then link them up with the appropriate community support services,” Moffatt explained.
“We want to be able to help the family through the whole Alzheimer journey,” she said.
“We want to be there from the beginning stages.”
Barron will be available to do community presentations for any groups interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s, and will conduct monthly support groups for families in the district.
“So they can get together with other people who are going through the same thing, and share their stresses and successes,” she noted.
“Statistics are showing that for every person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, 10-12 others are directly impacted, such as friends, family, co-workers, and neighbours,” added Moffatt.
“It really affects the people that are caring for them.”
The local Alzheimer Society is looking at offering a number of new initiatives this year, including making memory boxes and memory quilts.
“[The memory boxes] will be for people in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s,” said Moffatt.
“It’s something their caregivers can provide their family member with to help them remember,” she explained, citing photos could be included in the boxes
“We are also going to be developing a touch quilt,” she added. “It has different fabrics on it and it also helps people with Alzheimer’s stimulate memory.”
They are hoping to provide all clients with a quilt this fall or winter.
“I just have such a heart for the needs of these people,” remarked Barron.
“I love to connect with people and teaching seems to come naturally, so I thought if I got this job, I’d make an effort to do the best I can with it.”
To contact Barron, call the local Alzheimer Society at 1-800-682-0245.