• 63°

Caregiver Appreciation Night set for Monday

Since 1984, Jo Ann O’Quinn has hosted a support group for those affected by Alzheimer’s and other related disorders and on Monday they are holding an event to celebrate.

The annual Caregivers Appreciation Night will take place on Feb. 3 at The Blake at 5 p.m. in commemoration of the start of those monthly support group meetings 35 years ago. All former caregivers, present caregivers and supporters of caregivers in the community are invited to attend the event.

“I started the Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders support group after seeing the value of providing education and support families and lack of resources (in a pre-internet age) while I was working in mental health as a clinical physician,” O’Quinn said. “We have been told we may be the longest continuous Alzheimer’s group in the nation, as many start and stop over the years.”

The group is intended for those caring for a loved one with memory loss, whether diagnosed Alzheimer’s or a related memory disorder. The primary caregivers and their family or friends have all atttended meetings over the years, according to O’Quinn.

One thing that has come out of the support group is the formation of the Oxford group Memory Makers: Respite Day Service. The group provides care for adults with early to middle stage Alzheimer’s Disease or other memory disorders in a secure, respectful and welcoming environment. Memory Makers also provides respite to caregivers, allowing them to take a break from the daily stress of caregiving.

Memory Makers is run by Tracy Morgan.

The event will feature musical entertainment, as well as an update on services and research in the state for those dealing with memory loss by Kathy VanCleeve from the MIND Center at the University Medical Center in Jackson.

The Blake and other local agencies are helping put on the event.

“We are saddened that there is still a need for this support group after 35 years, but are fortunate to have someone as dedicated and compassionate to oversee this group,” said Morgan Walter, executive director at The Blake.

Those interested in attending the event or getting more information can contact O’Quinn at joannoquin@gmail.com or Lori Hannah at The Blake by calling 662-234-5050.