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Series of online programs aim to support caregivers of those with dementia

A logo with the words "Wyoming Dementia Together: Connecting People Who Care' over stylized yellow sun rays.
Wyoming Dementia Together

As the state’s aging population grows, the need for dementia-focused education is on the rise as well. As part of that response, Wyoming Dementia Together is hosting a six-month-long series of online programs to create connections and community for those who have loved ones living with dementia.

The group is made up of medical professionals, therapists, social workers, and caregivers from around the state and the region. Programs feature a guest speaker and a live Q&A on Zoom, and will cover topics like fall prevention, how to create meaningful leisure time, and ways to cope with grief and loss.

Scott Veatch, the outreach coordinator for Wyoming Dementia Together, said the group is taking the lead in providing this kind of programming in the state.

“Everyone probably knows someone, a friend, parent, grandparent who has some kind of dementia, and it touches so many people. And there is so little information about that out there,” he said.

Wyoming Dementia Together is sponsored by the Wyoming Center on Aging at the University of Wyoming and has been hosting educational programming since early 2021. Veach said the program has drawn interest from those hoping to do similar work around the country.

“We’ve had participants from the University of Oklahoma and the University of Utah joining us to try and get a better idea of what we're doing to help them develop their own similar programs,” he said.

Veatch lives in Casper and was a caregiver for his wife, who suffered from dementia for fifteen years. He said the experience of being a caregiver can be very isolating, which makes the opportunity to connect with others all the more important.

“When people participate in our programs and see that it's okay to ask questions and make comments, it’s a community-building effort,” he said.

In addition to the Zoom presentations, Veatch also separately interviews the experts and uploads those conversations to the Wyoming Dementia Together YouTube Page.

“Sometimes in our Wednesday Zoom calls, we can deal with sensitive information that we didn't want to make permanently available. This is a way for us to still cover the same kind of information and make it available on a permanent basis,” he said.

The programming starts January 31st and will take place bi-weekly on Wednesdays through the end of June. More information about the talks and instructions on how to register are available on the Wyoming Dementia Together information page.

Hannah Habermann is the rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has a degree in Environmental Studies and Non-Fiction Writing from Middlebury College and was the co-creator of the podcast Yonder Lies: Unpacking the Myths of Jackson Hole. Hannah also received the Pattie Layser Greater Yellowstone Creative Writing & Journalism Fellowship from the Wyoming Arts Council in 2021 and has taught backpacking and climbing courses throughout the West.
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