FRANKLIN — It can be scary, frustrating, and isolating. Your loved one has changed. It may be your spouse, a parent, or a sibling.

Perhaps it started out with some personality changes, and suddenly they didn't seem like the same person that you've always known. Maybe you were getting repeats of stories or questions, or your loved one starting to lose things that don’t normally get lost. There was difficulty getting to places that you know he or she knew how to get to. It could be missed doctor's appointments or bills left unpaid. Suddenly the competent, responsible adult that you once knew is a different person, who might be angry that you're trying to get involved.

When you finally hear the diagnosis of dementia, it's almost a relief, because now you have a name for the scary spiral that your loved one's life has taken, but with that diagnosis comes a whole series of new questions, especially, “What are we going to do now?”

In New Hampshire alone, there are thousands of adults living on either side of that scenario every day. For those caregivers of people with dementia, it can be a confusing and lonely road where stresses take tolls on the health of those caregivers, and caregiving comes with huge financial impacts.

Franklin VNA & Hospice, in partnership with the Peabody Home, is running a series of workshops for caregivers of people with dementia. Led by Cheryl Barnes, a certified Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care trainer, certified dementia practitioner, and registered nurse, the series of six sessions will cover everything, from how to address problems with self-care in the early stages of dementia to the very significant physical changes that can occur with advanced dementia. The group will bring together caregivers who are usually isolated from each other.

“There are other people going through what you are going through, said Barnes. "There are ways that this can get better.”

The sessions are free but require pre-registration by calling 603-934-3454.

When asked why the agency chose to hold the series, Tabitha Dowd, executive director of Franklin VNA & Hospice, said, “The population in our area has unique needs when caring for those with dementia and other memory illnesses. We felt there was such a great need for this type of support group, and we’re glad to be able to partner with such a strong educator as Cheryl Barnes to bring help to those families and their loved ones who need it."

Barnes said, “Caring for those with dementia and memory issues is hard. There is help out there and you don't need to feel alone. Together we can support each other through the hardship and help each other find the joy."

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