Over 100 family caregivers and health professionals came together for The Bridge Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center’s Second Annual Education Conference, with the theme, “A Positive Approach to Dementia.” The all-day conference was held Friday, November 4, at First United Methodist Church. With the elderly population growing and dementia on the rise, more family members are finding themselves in a caregiver role.

The conference kicked off with “Coffee & Conversation” with Meghan Harris, MD, a local neurologist who provided answers to the most frequently asked questions about Alzheimer’s and then fielded questions from the audience.

Keynote speaker, Beth Nolan, PhD, from the Teepa Snow Foundation, gave the attendees much to think about as she explained how the brain shrinks with dementia and how to use a positive approach with the dementia individual. Vision changes plays an important factor in knowing how to communicate due to the decrease in safety awareness for the dementia individual. Slides from Nolan’s presentation can be found on the Teepa Snow website and will be available for two weeks past the conference date.

Local speaker and gerontologist, Stacey Hand, followed the keynote presentation with additional information on how to deal with unmet needs of the dementia individual. “You have to become a detective at times,” said Hand, “in order to understand what they are trying to communicate to you.”

Other local speakers included Dr. Carl Rhoads with First United Methodist Church, Elizabeth Disbrow, PhD, Center for Brain Health; and Evelyn Pryor, MD, with LSU Health Shreveport.

The 20 exhibitors from local businesses and organizations specializing in memory or senior care played a vital part of the conference as attendees were given opportunities throughout the day to visit and ask questions.

“The information and the insight provided by all our speakers can be used by anyone involved in any type of caregiving,” said Paulette Freeman, executive director of The Bridge. “There are so many complex needs, and we were given various techniques to help us in our journey with caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.”

Presenting conference sponsor was the Alta and John Franks Foundation. Host sponsor was First United Methodist Church. Gold Conference Sponsors were Terri & Joey Earnest, Willis-Knighton Health System, The Gaffney Family. Silver Conference Sponsors were Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, The Glen Life Plan Community, Kyle Moore, Attorney with Weems, Schimpf, Haines, Shemwell & Moore. Bronze Conference Sponsors were Bossier Council on Aging, Garden Park Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, LLC, Gilsoul & Aronson, Attorneys at Law. Friend Conference Sponsors were CenterWell Senior Primary Care, Meriwether Wealth & Planning, Preferred Care at Home, and The Blake.

Next year’s conference has been scheduled for Friday, November 3, 2023. More information can be obtained by calling The Bridge Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center at 318-656-4800 or visiting their website at www.alzbridge.org.