Support group offers resources for people suffering from rare form of dementia

Stock image | Photo by Bowdenimages/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A free support group for caregivers of those suffering from a rare form of dementia that affects a patient’s behavior and language will be held Monday at the St. George Library, 88 W. 100 South, from 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Frontotemporal dementia – also known as frontotemporal lobar degeneration, Picks disease or simply FTD – is distinct from other forms of dementia.

FTD is the most common form of dementia in people under 60. It affects behavior, language and motor functions. Unlike more common forms of dementia, memory is not affected in most cases.

Memory Matters, a nonprofit organization based in St. George, has partnered with the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration to offer the support group.

Monday’s support group will be facilitated by Bonnie Shepherd, who left her career to support her husband when he was diagnosed with FTD. She serves as a board member and recording secretary for the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration.

Bonnie Shepherd, board member and recording secretary for the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, will facilitate a support group for caregivers of those suffering from frontotemporal dementia in St. George | Photo courtesy of Memory Matters, St. George News

“We will talk about possible strategies and examples of how we might handle certain situations and then we have an open discussion on multiple topics from the members,” Shepherd said of the support group.

The group will also include a brief presentation on agitation and anxiety as it relates to FTD.

FTD can be especially challenging to deal with for patients and caregivers affected by the disease, due to younger onset, poorly recognized symptoms and no current medical treatment beyond managing symptoms of behavior, agitation and anxiety.

Shepherd emphasized that the value of the support group lies in allowing caregivers to know they are not alone in dealing with the challenges they face, which can include financial issues, medical issues, respite care, placement and finding resources in the community.

The meeting, which usually includes around a dozen people, is intended as a supportive resource for caregivers of those suffering from FTD, but those who have questions about the disease or suspect a family member may be showing signs of it may also attend.

“FTD is a disease and not something to hide or deny,” Shepherd said. “Take advantage of solutions that can help with the journey for the caregiver and patients and to provide support for both.”

The support group is offered on a quarterly basis for people in Southern Utah and surrounding communities, including southern Nevada.

For more information, contact Memory Matters of Utah/Nevada at 435-319-0407 or email info@memorymattersutah.org.

Event details

  • What: Frontotemporal dementia support group.
  • When: Monday, June 11, from 12:30-1:30 p.m.
  • Where: St. George Library, located at 88 W. 100 South, St. George.
  • Cost: Free.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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