The Care & Share Alzheimer’s Support Group began in September 2012, following an eight-week series of education classes about Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, given by the Alzheimer’s Association, Green Bay Chapter, and held at the Marinette Senior Center. I was there because my husband had passed in December 2011, and I needed to know if I had done all that I could for him. It was there that I met a wonderful group of caregivers, all in various stages of caregiving of loved ones suffering from one or more types of dementia. The classes were extremely helpful for all of us, and I wished that I had been able to learn these things during our journey, instead of after.

Toward the end of the 8 weeks of classes, this group of caregivers decided to continue to meet, and asked if I would join them and be their facilitator, and we became the Care & Share Alzheimer’s Support Group. One of the caregivers said her church would be willing to provide a place for us to meet every Wednesday. We gratefully accepted their offer. We later moved to our present meeting place at Faith Church in Peshtigo.

In July 2018, as a Purple Angel trainer for the Dementia Friendly Community Coalition of Marinette County, I provided the Purple Angel Program training to the Care & Share Alzheimer’s Support Group, making this an official Dementia Friendly group.

Our meetings are specifically for caregivers and family members of loved ones with dementia and are mostly open discussion about caregiving issues, and we share what works for each of us in certain situations. What is discussed is confidential, “What is said here stays here.” We are not professionals, but families who need support and encouragement from others dealing with the same issues. One of the most difficult issues is finding available respite care for loved ones who cannot be left alone, making it difficult for caregivers to take advantage of the support group meetings and other educational options.

As a support group, we are in touch with the ADRC of Marinette County, the Dementia Friendly Community Coalition of Marinette County, the Marinette County Elderly Services, and the Alzheimer’s Association, among others. These agencies and community organizations offer education, information and services that are helpful to those families living with dementia.

Care & Share offers two meetings each Wednesday. The morning group meets from 9 to 11 a.m. at Faith Church, 350 N, Stephenson Ave., Peshtigo. The afternoon group meets from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 2901 13th St., Menominee. Any caregiver may choose either the morning or afternoon group, or both. Caregivers are also able to arrive any time during these hours and leave when they need to. Schedules are difficult to keep when caring for a loved one with dementia.

June Ehlers is the facilitator of the Care & Share Alzheimer’s Support Group. People may contact her at 715-582-3589; cell, 715-938-3589 or email at jmehlers@new.rr.com.