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Dementia Friendly Tempe lecture series features geropsychologist

Coverage of aging is supported in part by AARP Arizona

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be tough. Navigating the health care system or finding the right kind of support can be even more challenging.

Geropsychologist Natali Edmonds Psy.D., says caregivers face many hurdles. Edmonds explains what she does to help.

"It can be counseling and therapy for the older adult who might have depression, anxiety, or starting to have memory changes and problems and want some help coping with that," said Edmonds.

Or it can be supporting spouses or adult children.

"Many of them are also still working. And so they're trying to juggle raising kids, you know, doing well in their career, as well as making sure their parent is safe," Edmonds said.

For spouses, the approach is different, says Edmonds.

"They've spent decades and decades for many of them together, learning how to interact together, communicating in a certain way. And then realizing all of a sudden, none of that's working anymore and we have to shift our approach."

Next month, Edmonds, along with Dementia Friendly Tempe, will share tips on how to improve relationships with those living with dementia. 

"Because we know dementia declines with time it gets worse with time. And it can add a lot of tension and strain between the main caregiver, the family member as well as a person with dementia. And that's just going to make it more difficult for the person with dementia to want to accept help."

The goal of the event is to provide caregivers with tools to improve how they interact with loved ones.

According to the American Psychological Association, there are 660 geropsychologists in the United States. Yet by 2030, we’ll need more than 5,700 to meet the needs of seniors. 

Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.