“The Network” is an auxiliary of MemoryCare that provides peer support to caregivers who have loved ones with dementia.  They provide community education about dementia care and volunteer support for MemoryCare community functions. The Network has three caregiver support groups that meet monthly. Mary Donnelly and Pat Hilgendorf run the support groups, and they publish an e-newsletter with information about caregiving.

MemoryCaregiver Network Groups

For more information on The Network groups contact Mary Donnelly at network@memorycare.org

FLETCHER GROUP

1st Tuesday monthly
1:00-3:00 pm

Fletcher Seventh Day Adventist Church
1141 Howard Gap Rd.
Fletcher, NC 28732
(Next to Park Ridge Hospital; Lower level entrance)

NEW HOPE GROUP

3rd Tuesday monthly
1:00–3:00 pm

New Hope Presbyterian Church
3070 Sweeten Creek Road.
Arden, NC 28803
(across from Givens Estates entrance; lower level)

Meets concurrently with the “Memory Loss Navigators,” a support group for those in early stages of memory loss. Pre-screening required. Contact Mel Kelley, 828-301-0529, avant_garden@msn.com

NORTH ASHEVILLE GROUP

4th Tuesday Monthly
1:00-3:00 pm

Newbridge Baptist Church
199 Elkwood Ave
Woodfin, NC 28804
(off Merrimon, just north of Beaver Lake; enter at glass doors adjacent to gym)

The Network’s Story

In 2007, a group of MemoryCare caregivers got together and established the MemoryCaregivers Network. For the first three years of its existence, The Network was a volunteer entity with goals of providing peer support to participants, educating the community about dementia from a caregiver’s perspective, and helping to fundraise for MemoryCare’s operations. The group functioned independently of MemoryCare until May of 2010 when they received grant funding, administered through MemoryCare and facilitated by a Network coordinator.  Through a combination of grants, fund raising events, donations from Network participants, and designated donations from MemoryCare donors, the group the group has remained a source of support to the community.

While a little more than half of the Network attendees are enrolled with MemoryCare, it is not a requirement.  All Network groups are open to anyone caring for a person with a memory disorder.  “We have spouses, children, siblings, partners, and friends,” say Donnelly and Hilgendorf, “all of whom are there because they are caring for, or concerned about, a loved one.”  Some of the Network members live with their loved ones, some are living nearby, and some live across the country.  Some have been dealing with dementia for several years; others are new to the challenges.  “It’s wonderful to see how the ‘upperclassmen,’ the ones who have been coming for a while, help the new folks.  The collective wisdom in the room is remarkable.  Everyone tries to help everyone else.  Occasionally we have a caregiver who isn’t comfortable yet sharing with family and friends about the disease, so our group may be all they have.”

There are many other excellent organizations in our community that are not under the auspices of MemoryCare which also serve the memory impaired population in our region. These include but are not limited to The Alzheimer’s Association, Land of Sky Regional Council, Mission Hospital’s Caring for Aging Parents Education and Support (CAPES), Project C.A.R.E., adult day programs, and more. We are fortunate to live in a community with many resources for aging adults and appreciate opportunities for collaboration.

Mother and Daughter

“Support groups are very helpful when you’re dealing with a disease like dementia,” says Hilgendorf.  “Most people don’t understand this disease, so it can get very lonely.  But we laugh together, cry together, and share information about how we can make life easier for all concerned.  It’s as much an education group as it is a support group.”

For more information about Network Support Groups, send an email to network@memorycare.org or call the MemoryCare office at (828) 771-2219.

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