Alzheimer group in volunteer plea
Dordogne group that helps English-speaking sufferers and carers bids to expand service across France
by JANE HANKS
Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, highlighting a disease which afflicts 900,000 people in France and which can be particularly difficult to cope with if you are an English speaking person here.
Only one group exists in France to help English-speaking sufferers – and their carers – and the group, based in Bergerac, Dordogne, is calling for volunteers to extend help to English-speakers across the country.
Volunteer Dominque Lacan said: “There are English speaking people all over the country who are suffering from this disease and have lived in France for many years but don’t speak French and they and their partners can be very lost, coping with the problems the illness causes.”
Mrs Lacan, a retired English teacher, set up the English-speaking group as part of national charity France Alzheimer in Bergerac after she had gone to volunteer at the charity. Ity was suggested that with her knowledge of English she could help UK residents in the area.
She is now assisted by two other English people and they hold a monthly workshop where they help sufferers with language and memory skills by, for example by singing Beatle’s songs or doing crosswords.
Mrs Lacan says people with the disease enjoy these sessions. However, most people get in touch with them to ask for practical advice about who they should turn to for medical care or day-to-day help such as assisting the person to get up and get dressed in the morning and evening.
“We get calls from all over France and even from relatives as far afield as the US asking what facilities exist here."
Although the government has today given backing for France's first Alzheimer's Village to be set up in the Landes, based on an existing project in the Netherlands, there is little for English speaking residents.
Mrs Lacan added: “What we would really like to do is to see other English speaking groups set up in other areas. I am sure there are plenty of other retired teachers or Anglophone residents who would be willing to give up some of their time to help.
“As well as the workshops and help by telephone, we also go and visit sufferers and stay with them while their relative goes out for a while.”
This weekend France Alzheimer Dordogne is holding an open day on September 27 in Bergerac when Dordogne Ladies Club will be presenting a cheque to the association in recognition of its work to help the English speaking community.
If you are interested in helping, you can contact Dominique Lacan on 06 98 94 73 04. Their website is www.francealzheimer-dordogne.org and there are France Alzheimer branches all over the country – which you can find at www.francealzheimer.org
Today is World #Alzheimer's Day.
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