Alzheimer’s disease educators return to South Lake Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Alzheimer’s disease educators return to South Lake Tahoe

Tim Parsons

For Bea and John Gorman, Alzheimer’s disease runs in the family. Four of the nine in their immediate family have the disease.

Then living in South Lake Tahoe, they became proactive.

“I couldn’t find any help so I started looking for answers,” said Bea Gorman, who, with her husband, heads up the Northern California Alzheimer’s Aide Society.

The couple will be the first speakers in a series of caregiver workshops at South Lake Tahoe. It is a six-week series of classes at the Embassy Suites designed to provide instruction and support for those who are caring for or plan to care for a family member or friend

The Gormans learned that one out of 10 Alzheimer’s disease victims has familial Alzheimer’s disease. They were put in touch with a family in Oklahoma in which 12 of its 14 members had the disease.

“It’s very scary for our kids,” said Gorman, who is 70 years old. All of the members of the Gorman family who got the disease began showing symptoms at the age of 42.

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Bea Gorman wrote an article about it in the Lake Tahoe News in 1980 and it was picked up by the Sacramento Bee. She decided to start a support group. So many people in Northern California were interested that the Gormans set up regional headquarters in Sacramento.

After two years of driving to the state capital for meetings, they decided to move to Lodi where their daughter lived.

The nonprofit Alzheimer’s Aide Society has grown to have 100 volunteers with offices in Lodi, Sacramento and Modesto, a mailing list of 15,000 for its newsletter and in March will have its 25-year anniversary. Bea Gorman is the author of the book “Will I Be Next.”

They come back to South Lake Tahoe to educate people about the disease.

“They come up with very practical ideas and ways of dealing with people who have Alzheimer’s,” said Tammy Bragg, a program assistant with the El Dorado County Department of Human Services Family Caregiver Support Program. “They help you enter the world of an Alzheimer’s patient and it enables you to become a better caregiver.”

This is the third year of caregiver series at South Lake Tahoe. There have been 36 classes with a total attendance of 540. The caregivers also give classes in Somerset, Georgetown, Pollock Pines and the El Dorado Hills area. The classes are free, but donations are accepted.

The classes will be Mondays from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Embassy Suites, 4130 Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Embassy Suites donates its conference room, coffee is provided by Starbucks and pastries are donated by Harrah’s Lake Tahoe.

The caregiver group also meets the second Thursday of each month from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center.

All classes and materials are offered free of charge, but donations are gratefully accepted. Refreshments will be served.

The schedule:

Oct. 3: Common Sense Approach to Alzheimer’s Caregiving by John and Bea Gorman of the Alzheimer’s Aide Society.

Oct. 10: Legal Issues, Bring your Questions, by Diana Steele, Senior Legal Services, E.D.C.

Oct. 17: Simplify Nutrition, by Suzanne Anderson, RD

Oct. 24: Do I Worry Too Much, by Larry Dawes, MSW

Oct. 31: When Home May Not Be Best, Placement Options by Gail Arno, MSW, Senior Care Solutions

Nov. 7: Medi-Cal 101 by Faye Henry, Social Worker, E.D.C.

For reservations or respite call: El Dorado County Family Caregiver Support Program, (530) 621-6151 or (800) 510-2020.