On June 26, 2013, seven AMPHS volunteers attended the Second Annual 5 Boroughs Concepts in Care Conference assembled by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. The conference included a morning session of renowned experts discussing the science of Alzheimer’s disease as well as the care and treatment of those with Alzheimer’s, followed by smaller lectures in the afternoon. These afternoon sessions were split between three tracks: a healthcare professionals track, a caregivers track, and a track for dementia patients. AMPHS representatives attended the professionals track meetings and learned a great deal about the challenges that come with caring for people with Alzheimer’s as well as the progression of the disease and the methods for treating people at each stage.
Highlights of the day included lively, interactive lectures by Melanie Bunn, RN detailing the proper way to approach and care for patients with Alzheimer’s in different stages of the disease, a beautiful display of some of the panels which make up the AFA Quilt to Remember, and a Virtual Dementia Tour. During lunchtime, all participants got a fun break from sitting when we all stood up to dance as part of a demonstration of music therapy for patients with dementia. Perhaps the most poignant part of the conference was the last workshop, which featured a panel of two sets of siblings and one of their mothers, who suffers from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. These extraordinary young adults serve as caretakers for their parents, and had many insights and pieces of advice for how the community can better support early-onset Alzheimer’s patients and their families.
Many AMPHS volunteers found the event a valuable experience. According to Community Engagement Associate Alexandra Lacqua, “We deal with individuals who are at risk for Alzheimer’s Disease during our screenings all the time, but this session has really helped me develop a fresh perspective of the disease and a better understanding of how to deal with dementia patients during our events.”