Memory Fair to educate caregivers, community about dementias

Alzheimer's illustration.

If you go

› What: Memory Fair.› When: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday.› Where: Morning Pointe of Chattanooga at Shallowford, 7719 Shallowford Road.› Admission: Free.› RSVP to: 423-296-0097.› To reserve respite care for a dementia patient during the event, call 423-551-4190.

Keynote speaker

Dr. Terry Melvin received her M.D. from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts, and completed her internship and residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. With 20 years of experience, Dr. Melvin is an expert in providing in-home care for those affected by dementia. Her goal is to make it easy for everyone to manage their health in any stage of life.Expert Panelists* Amy Boulware, LAP, MSW, Care Manager, Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel* Maggie Barre, DPH, Pharmacy HomeCare* Larry Griffith, Executive Director, The Lantern at Morning Pointe Alzheimer’s Center of Excellence Collegedale* Anita Graves, RN, Regional Director of Behavioral Health, Guardian Home Care* Paula Hensel, Community Relations Manager, Senior Helpers* Tiffany Hobbs, Executive Director, Hearth Hospice

Experts on Alzheimer's disease will take part in the eighth annual Memory Fair scheduled Thursday evening at Morning Pointe of Chattanooga at Shallowford. Keynote speaker is Dr. Terry Melvin. This year's theme is "Continuum of Care: Addressing Dementia from First Signs to Final Stages."

Melvin opened Partners in Care, a Chattanooga adult care facility, in 2016 and practices palliative primary care and in-home adult care. She previously worked in hospice care for 27 years.

Melvin says that while Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia, is often feared and misunderstood, the event will provide an "overview of the spectrum of care" with messages of hope and help.

"Alzheimer's disease is a chronic, progressive, fatal disease for which there is no cure and no effective treatment," Melvin says. "As bleak as that sounds, there are ways to manage this disease and to maintain a good quality of life for the patient and the caregiver. That's the take-away we want attendees to go home with: a better understanding of the disease and tools and resources they need in order to achieve that better quality of life."

Nena Mitchell, the resident services director at Morning Pointe of Chattanooga at Shallowford, started the Memory Fair in 2010 with the help and support of the facility and friend Amy French from the Alzheimer's Association in Chattanooga. She describes dementia as "devastating" and "the worst disease" she has seen in seniors in more than 20 years as a nurse. She says she felt like people were not receiving enough information about dementia despite how common it is.

"Dementia takes away who someone is and leaves a body that looks like someone you loved. It is truly watching someone go an inch at a time," Mitchell says. "It's an equal opportunity devastating disease, no matter how rich, poor, seemingly healthy or unhealthy, no matter what background, it affects everyone equally devastatingly."

Mitchell says this is the second time the Memory Fair will be held at Morning Pointe, and audiences have continued to increase, with 225 in attendance last year. Having the six expert panelists under the same roof will benefit the audience by creating an environment to share perspectives, answers and advice, she says.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's and as many as 16 million will have the disease by 2050. In Tennessee alone, there are approximately 110,000 people 65 and older with Alzheimer's.

One in three seniors in America dies with Alzheimer's or another dementia, and in 2017 around $259 billion will be spent on Alzheimer's and other dementias.

Though there is no cure for dementia, Melvin says the Memory Fair can help attendees explore various options.

"Each case is individual. The important thing is to know what your choices are," Melvin says. "Memory Fair is designed to do just that: to give you the information you need and empower you to make the best decisions for your loved one and yourself."

The free event is sponsored by the Alzheimer's Association and Morning Pointe.

The Lantern at Morning Pointe Alzheimer's Center of Excellence Chattanooga will provide free, professional respite care for Alzheimer's patients to enable caregivers to attend.

Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP.