Caregiver's Corner

328 West Conan Street
Ely, Minnesota 55731


Northwoods Partners News

The latest news from NP

Volunteering and its Surprising Benefits

How Giving to Others Makes You Healthier and Happier

With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering are enormous to you, your family, and your community. The right match can help you reduce stress, find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even advance your career. Giving to others can also help protect your mental and physical health. Continue reading to learn more about the many benefits of helping others.

Why volunteer?
Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. Volunteering and helping others can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. While it’s true that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day. Giving in even simple ways can help those in need and improve your health and happiness.  Read on to explore the 3 ways volunteering can make you feel healthier and happier.
Benefit 1: Volunteering connects you to others
One of the more well-known benefits of volunteering is the impact on the community. Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place. Even helping out with the smallest tasks can make a real difference to the lives of people, animals, and organizations in need. And volunteering is a two-way street: It can benefit you and your family as much as the cause you choose to help. Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends, expand your network, and boost your social skills.
  • Make new friends and contacts:  One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to commit to a shared activity together. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, especially if you are new to an area. It strengthens your ties to the community and broadens your support network, exposing you to people with common interests, neighborhood resources, and fun and fulfilling activities.
  • Increase your social and relationship skills:  While some people are naturally outgoing, others are shy and have a hard time meeting new people. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills, since you are meeting regularly with a group of people with common interests. Once you have momentum, it’s easier to branch out and make more friends and contacts.
  • Volunteering as a family:  Children watch everything you do. By giving back to the community, you’ll show them firsthand how volunteering makes a difference and how good it feels to help other people and animals and enact change. It’s also a valuable way for you to get to know organizations in the community and find resources and activities for your children and family.

Benefit 2: Volunteering is good for your mind and body
Volunteering provides many benefits to both mental and physical health.
  • Volunteering helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety. The social contact aspect of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on your overall psychological well-being. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection to another person. Working with pets and other animals has also been shown to improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Volunteering combats depression. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which in turn protects you against depression.
  • Volunteering makes you happy. By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure. Human beings are hard-wired to give to others. The more we give, the happier we feel.
  • Volunteering increases self-confidence. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.
  • Volunteering provides a sense of purpose. Older adults, especially those who have retired or lost a spouse, can find new meaning and direction in their lives by helping others. Whatever your age or life situation, volunteering can help take your mind off your own worries, keep you mentally stimulated, and add more zest to your life.
  • Volunteering helps you stay physically healthy. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not. Older volunteers tend to walk more, find it easier to cope with everyday tasks, are less likely to develop high blood pressure, and have better thinking skills. Volunteering can also lessen symptoms of chronic pain and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Benefit 3: Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life
Volunteering is a fun and easy way to explore your interests and passions. Doing volunteer work you find meaningful and interesting can be a relaxing, energizing escape from your day-to-day routine of work, school, or family commitments. Volunteering also provides you with renewed creativity, motivation, and vision that can carry over into your personal and professional life.

Many people volunteer in order to make time for hobbies outside of work as well. For instance, if you have a desk job and long to spend time outdoors, you might consider volunteering to help plant a community garden, walk dogs for an animal shelter, or go for a walk with a senior.
Adapted from


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Caregiver Support Groups

More than 65 million people, that’s 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one.

Caregiving is a tough and isolating experience.  Caregiver support groups provide an opportunity to connect with others that are in similar situations.  Support group members validate each other’s experiences.  They are a great place to ask for advice, find out about useful resources, and it’s a place to vent your frustrations.  Nobody will judge you, because everyone there is going through many of the same struggles.  It’s a safe place to share feelings and get support.  You are not alone! We encourage you to join us:


Babbitt Support Group

1st Monday of the Month

1 - 2:30 pm

Carefree Living Babbitt


Ely Support Group

4th Monday of the Month

10 - 11:30 am

Ely Hospital  - Conference Room B


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Virtual Dementia Tour

Virtual Dementia Tour by Second Wind Dreams
This is an incredible opportunity to “walk in someone’s shoes” who has dementia. 
The tour is designed to change one’s perception of the disease
by trying to perform simple everyday tasks. 
This is accomplished by having participants wear
specialized gear meant to simulate the feelings caused by dementia. 
This can cause confusion, frustration, understanding and physical limitations
for the participants as they attempt to complete the tour.

Tuesday, October 16th
Ely Hospital Community Conference Room

Two Sessions are being offered
10 am – noon
1 pm – 3 pm

Space is limited – call to reserve your spot

We hope you can join us for this life changing experience.
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Healthy Aging Expo

Northwoods Partners will be hosting the 9th annual Healthy Aging Expo (formerly Elder Expo Ely) on Thursday, September 20th from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm at Amici’s Event Center. This event is dedicated to Senior Adults’ Healthy Lifestyles, Education and Caregiver Support.

Doors open at 9:00 so participants can pick up their punch card and visit over a dozen vendor tables with information and a variety of resources.  The Expo will conclude with completed punch cards being drawn for door prizes.

At 9:30 our Executive Director, Lisa Porthan, will kick off the Expo with an update on Northwoods Partners and the debut of our new video.  Speakers will begin at 10 am.

Lunch will be served. The cost of the event is $5. You can RSVP by calling the Northwoods Partners office at 365-8019.

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Thank You!

Thank You to 100+ Ely Women Who Care. 

On May 6, 2018 Northwoods Partners was selected as the charity to receive their donations totaling  over $7,000. 

Thank You!

For more information on 100+ Ely Women Who Care visit their web site



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Dementia Friendly @ Work Training

~ Lunch & Learn ~

Wednesday, April 25th

11:30 - 1:00pm

Ely Hospital Community Conference Room


For staff of business and service organizations and all other community settings

More than 90,000 Minnesotans age 65+ are living with Alzheimer’s. The annual number of Alzheimer’s cases and other dementias is projected to triple by 2050. These numbers will touch us all because they represent family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, colleagues, clients, and customers. 


Training Objectives

Learn what dementia is and some Alzheimer’s facts
Recognize the signs of Alzheimer’s
Learn tips for communicating and interacting with a person who has dementia
Learn tips for creating a dementia-friendly physical space
Get familiar with resources in your community


By participating in this training, you will help your business or organization heighten its awareness of dementia and be equipped to respond warmly and effectively when serving people living with dementia and their families.

Lunch Provided

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Cures for the Winter Blues

This is the time of year for craving spring! Many people feel they are losing their minds being cooped up inside for days on end and are tired of battling the cold weather. This cooping-up experience has come to be known as cabin fever. Cabin fever is defined as “a state characterized by anxiety, restlessness, and boredom, arising from a prolonged stay in a remote or confined place.” Your ‘place’ could be in your home or it could be in your mind.


The American Medical Association characterize the symptoms of cabin fever as:

• A lack of patience
• Always feeling tired
• Feeling unproductive and unmotivated
• Feeling sad or depressed
• Lethargy
• Difficulty concentrating
• Craving carbohydrates or sugar
• Difficulty waking in the morning
• Social withdrawal
• Irritability


Depression is also common in the winter months. A percentage of the population suffers from an affliction called “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” or SAD. In people with SAD, the lack of natural sunlight in the winter time upsets the sleep-wake cycle and other body rhythms, as well as the release of serotonin, one of the brain’s “feel-good” chemicals.


So, what are some KEYS to overcome cabin fever and beat the winter blues?

**Creativity and thinking outside the box may be necessary during these months.


Keep the Mind Active

  • Keep the mind active- by participating in mental exercises.
  • Purchase games such as crossword puzzles or Sudoku, buy jigsaw puzzles or other hobby items to entertain and keep the mind thinking and analyzing.
  • Consider shutting off all the electronics and UNPLUG for a while. Decrease your screen time and do things that are more interactive like reading books, magazines or breaking out a game board/puzzle. The key is to stimulate the brain and interact with others.
  • If a senior is hearing or vision impaired, look to the local library for books on tape.


Keep the Body Active      

  • Get regular exercise - Even if seniors cannot get outside, they can find ways to be active in their homes. They can use an exercise DVD or VHS tape or stream a video from the Internet. They can walk laps around their home. Many seniors may have a home exercise plan prescribed by a therapist. This exercise plan may include simple sit to stand and leg lift exercises. On days when it is warmer, they can go for a walk with a family member or caregiver.
  • Physical activity lowers the emission of physiological chemicals in the body that bring on anxiety and depression. This makes exercising especially beneficial for people with the winter blues. Working out also relieves stress and, when people are more relaxed, they are less likely to remain in a depressive state, according to the Mayo Clinic. Snowshoeing, cross country skiing, sledding or taking your camera on a winter walk to capture the beauty of the season can be enjoyable.
  • If you can’t go for a walk in the great outdoors, the next best thing is a regular indoor exercise routine. Shopko walking, fitness centers (Studio North, Heavy Metal) or Matter of Balance classes or Tai Ji Quan offered by Northwoods Partners.
  • Indoors- turn up the music and dance, dance, dance!


Focus on Nutrition

Foods with too much sugar or caffeine can make seniors feel jittery or alter their moods. Foods such as pasta and other carbohydrates often leave a person feeling tired and sluggish, which adds to the winter blues. Take advantage of fresh fruits this time of the year, such as apples and oranges. Eat small, balanced meals regularly rather than skipping meals and eating larger meals later in the day.

Stay hydrated!

Winter is a very dry season so drink plenty of water! **A drop of just 2% in body water causes short term memory problems and significant difficulties with concentration. Good hydration helps you become mentally alert throughout the day.

Eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible and consider Vitamin D supplement benefits.


Social Interactions are a MUST

Even if you cannot get out of the house for days at a time, you still can interact with others.  Chat online; send messages on Facebook or Skype or Facetime with long-distance family. Call family and friends on the phone.

Consider church events and meals, breakfast or lunch outings with friends or coffee get-togethers when able.


Find Productive Activities

Indulge in a hobby. Dig out something fun to do. Perhaps you love to knit but haven’t touched the needles in ages. Maybe you want to brush up on your painting skills. The Dollar Store offers lots of activity ideas for cheap. Even less creative endeavors, like organizing that closet that always has stuff falling out on your head, can keep you busy and feeling productive.


LET in the LIGHT

The winter blues are often intensified by the lack of sunlight common in the colder months. You can boost your mood by opening the blinds so sun shines through your windows. Also, spend some time outdoors, even when sunlight is faint in the winter; the direct sunlight is healthy for people

  • Light therapy, or phototherapy, has been proven to help people with seasonal affective disorder. For this treatment, patients sit a few feet away from a box that emits bright light. According to the Mayo Clinic, the light emulates sunlight and alters the chemicals in the human brain that are connected to mood. The light therapy sessions should last from half an hour to 90 minutes a day during the winter



Consider local charities, hospital, organizations that would benefit from volunteer help. Often Caregivers and Care Receivers can volunteer together and both parties will get an emotional boost.


Get out of town

The most drastic of cabin fever cases will benefit greatly from a ticket to the warm South or to a Caribbean Island. If you cannot afford such a trip, take a mini-vacation up the North Shore or to Minneapolis to a spa, gym or even a shopping mall where you can move around and revitalize yourself.



  • Visit greenhouses or do winter gardening in the home or start perusing the seed catalog to plant your spring garden. Keep a bouquet of fresh flowers and fresh fruits on your table, plan an indoor winter picnic or other themed get-togethers.
  • Join community education classes (cooking, language, fitness, hobbies).
  • Attend movies at the theater, local plays and music concerts, bring out the board games and invite others in, or be a tourist and visit a local museum or attraction.
  • Even decluttering and organizing your home can create a sense of productivity, order, and free up more usable space.
  • Self-care is also important. Massages, aromatherapy, a trip to the hair salon, manicures, and pedicures (even for men) may offer some relief and uplift, as well.

~Adapted from Cures for the Winter Blues by Kris Dwyer

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The Importance of Social Interaction over the Holidays

Social interaction is important at any age, but especially for seniors as studies show that social connections have added health benefits.


Improves Overall Health

There has always been a strong correlation between social interaction and health amongst people of all age groups.  Social interaction is especially important for older adults because it enhances the immune system while also keeping mental and physical health in peak condition.


Lowers Blood Pressure

Volunteering 200 hours a year can enhance your social life while lowering high blood pressure by up to 40%.


Sharpens Memory

Social activities can sharpen your mind, resulting in a greater sense of self-confidence and an upbeat attitude.


A Happier Life

Seeing family members and friends on a daily basis can help boost the spirits of anyone, especially seniors.


Ways to stay Social and Active in Ely


Attend Northwoods Partners Memories and Movement

Wednesdays 10:30-11:30 am at Ely Senior Center


Participate in the Community Exercise Group

Thursdays 10:30-11:30 am at First Lutheran Church


Join Silver Sneakers at Studio North

Tuesdays and Thursdays 9-10 am


Share in the fun at Heavy Metal Sports Quintastics (50+ Fabulous) Class

Mondays 5-6 pm and Thursdays 9-10 am


Sign Up for Northwoods Partners upcoming Session of Tai Ji Quan

Starts February 6, 2018

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ACT: Community Meeting

Dementia Friendly Ely
Community Meeting
Thursday, November 2nd
1 - 2:30 pm
Ely Bloomenson Hospital Community Conference Room
Anyone interested in helping make
Ely Dementia Friendly
is welcome to join us
Please RSVP to Northwoods Partners @ 218-365-8019
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ACT Lunch and Learn: Senior Legal Issues

Lunch and Learn with Kristin Parendo,
Senior Citizens Law Project
Topic:  Senior Legal Issues
Wednesday, November 1st
11 am - 12:30 pm
Ely Bloomenson Hospital Community Conference Room
lunch will be provided
Please RSVP to Northwoods Partners @ 218-365-8019
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ACT: Dementia Training


Jenna Herbig from the Alzheimer's Association will be here to present the training session:
Effective Communication Strategies
Understanding & Responding to Dementia Related Behavior
Wednesday, September 20th
Two training sessions will be offered 1-2:30 and 5:30-7
Ely Bloomenson Hospital Community Conference Room
Refreshments will be served
Please RSVP to Northwoods Partners @ 218-365-8019
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reConvening: Ely

Cathy Wurzer is back in town on September 14th for a reConvening to follow-up last year’s successful Convenings event. The reConvening will feature Cathy and special guests for an evening of creativity, storytelling and meaningful conversation about living and dying well. The reConvenings event is free and open to the public.
Join us for this unique and powerful event on the evening of Thursday, September 14th 6:30pm at Vermillion Community College. It just might change the way you look at your life…and your death.
For more information, visit or contact Sadie Rubin (Program Manager for The Convenings) at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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Healthy Aging Expo

Northwoods Partners ‘Healthy Aging Expo’ on August 9

Northwoods Partners will be hosting the 8th annual Healthy Aging Expo (formerly Elder Expo Ely) on Wednesday, August 9th, from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm at Amici’s Event Center. This event is dedicated to Senior Adults’ Healthy Lifestyles, Education and Caregiver Support. Doors open at 9 am so participants can pick up their punch card and visit over a dozen vendor tables with information and a variety of resources.  The Expo will conclude with completed punch cards being drawn for door prizes.

Speakers will begin at 10 am with our keynote speaker Dr. Terry Barclay Neuropsychologist, Clinical Director, Center for Memory and Aging, Health Partners. Dr. Barclay’s presentation is entitled ‘Check Up from the Neck Up:  Brain Health and Aging.’  Other topics include:  Why we get Fat and What we can do about it, Living Well with Chronic Conditions, Tai Ji Quan:  Moving for Better Balance, Advance Care Planning / Healthcare Directives, Medication Safety, and ACT ~ Dementia Friendly Ely Update.

Lunch will be served. The cost of the event is $5. You can RSVP by calling the Northwoods Partners office at 365-8019.  This event is presented by Northwoods Partners and made possible with the support of the Spiritwood ‘Forget Me Not’ Foundation and ACT on Alzheimer’s’.


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Porthan recognized as Visionary Leader

Congratulations to our very own Executive Director, Lisa Porthan. 

Minnesota Council of Nonprofits presented Lisa Porthan, Northwoods Partners Executive Director with the 2017 Nonprofit  Visionary  Leadership Award at the Nonprofit Leadership Conference held on June 13th in Minneapolis. 

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) is committed to building the strength and integrity of the nonprofit sector statewide.  As part of this commitment MCN recognizes individuals who demonstrate the highest level of integrity and dedication to their mission, community as well as the nonprofit sector.

Lisa has been the Executive Director and Caregiver Consultant at Northwoods Partners since 2008.

Congratulations Lisa!

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Feeling Stretched as a Caregiver?

Powerful Tools for Caregivers is an educational series designed to provide you with the tools you need to take care of yourself.

This program helps family caregivers reduce stress, improve self-confidence, communicate feelings better, balance their lives, increase their ability to make tough decisions and locate helpful resources.

Classes consist of six sessions held once a week.  Two experienced Class Leaders conduct the series (Lisa and Anne~Marie are experienced caregivers themselves, who have successfully applied the techniques they teach).  Interactive lessons, discussions and brainstorming will help you take the “tools” you choose and put them into action for your life.

You will receive a book, The Caregiver Helpbook, developed specifically for the class.  Classes will be FREE, thanks to support from Spiritwood Foundation and Hoops for Hope.

Classes will be held at Ely Bloomenson Hospital-Conference Room B from 10 am to noon.  Sessions are held every Wednesday and begin on March 4th.  For more information or to register, contact Lisa at Northwoods Partners at 365-8019.  Class size is limited and pre-registration is required.

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Friendly visits

Aging is a natural process of life. It begins the moment we are born. Yet strangely enough, many of us live under the illusion that we and our loved ones will never become old. When we or our loved ones reach old age we are often unprepared. Northwoods Care Partners can be there to help you through the journey. NCP provides support services that will enhance the quality of life for individuals who are aged, chronically ill or disabled and provides support for the caregivers and their families.

A very valuable support service we provide is friendly visits. Many elderly people in our community are homebound and have little to no communication with the outside world. A friendly visit from an NCP volunteer can do wonders for these individuals. Research has shown that people live longer when they are surrounded by people they love. We are beings that thrive in community. It is not healthy to not have human contact. The connections that are made between the volunteer and NCP participant are very powerful. Lifelong friendships are made and treasured memories created. Incredible stories are shared and history is carried on through these relationships. Volunteers and NCP participants are amazed at the joy they experience from these new found friends.

NCP also provides hundreds of rides for local and long distance medical appointments. Many individuals not only need a ride but someone to help them into the clinic and sit with them though their appointments. Many NCP participants tell us they often put off going to the doctor because they didn’t know how they would get there or who could accompany them there. NCP can assist our elderly community to get the medical attention they need and deserve. NCP plays a keep role in the continuum of care for our aging population.

NCP is also a wonderful resource for caregivers. Today many adult children are taking on the role as caregiver to their elderly parents. The role as caregiver can be both rewarding and very overwhelming. NCP is able to provide often much needed respite care for the caregivers. Respite care provides a temporary relief for those who are caring for a loved one. It is important the caregiver has a strong support system so they are able to take care of their own needs as well.

NCP can provide a key role in the journey of aging and caregiving. Whether it is a ride to a medical appointments, support group, friendly visit, respite care, exercise program or assistance in connecting with Hospice we are here to help. For more information please call Northwoods Care Partners at our new number 218-365-8019.

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Exercise Buddy Program

In August of 2006, the Center for Disease Control estimated that one in three adults over the age of 65 will fall each year and 20-30% of those falls will result in moderate to severe injuries that will require a life style change.

The Exercise Buddy Program is designed to support anyone who is in need of physical exercise, regardless of age or ability. The goals are to decrease falls, maintain independence, and improve a feeling of well-being through the volunteer visit and increased endorphins created by the exercise.

This program was developed to integrate volunteers with a concise and structured exercise routine for maximum results.

By pairing a volunteer with someone who needs motivation and assistance with a home exercise program, results are achieved that benefit both the mind and the body to bring about physical improvement.

It has been noted that home exercises are frequently prescribed by either a physician or physical therapist but are rarely followed through for more than a brief period of time. The Exercise Buddy Program helps to address this issue and improve compliance with a regular and consistent exercise routine once a week.

“The Exercise Buddy program has been such a boon for my ladies. The program has helped their balance, stamina, and redeveloped their muscle systems. The program has also worked out to be a social function and the ladies look forward to seeing the instructors.” -Sue Scufsa, The Pines Adult Foster Care

Please contact us if you are interested in participating in the Exercise Buddy Program, either as a recipient or a volunteer.

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NEW Family Memory Care Program Helps with Alzheimer’s

Did you know…5.3 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease? One in eight American’s aged sixty-five and over has Alzheimer’s. It is anticipated that with the aging of the baby boomers, the number of American’s with Alzheimer’s will likely reach 13.5 million in 2050. Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that develops gradually and is characterized by the destruction of nerve cells, especially in the areas of the brain vital to memory and learning. At this time there is no cure for the disease, only treatment strategies, to help manage the symptoms.

Alzheimer’s disease causes many difficult challenges for both the person diagnosed with the disease and their caregiver’s. It is important those involved recognize they do not have to face these challenges alone. It is important to stay connected with family and friends. It is also important to know the resources available to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. To be able to provide care for others you must first care for yourself physically and emotionally. By seeking the help from family members and friends and obtaining advice from professionals you can improve the quality of life for both yourself and your loved one. Though there is not a cure for the disease right now there are many things that can be done to ease the symptoms, strengthen emotions & raise spirits.

Northwoods Care Partners is happy to now offer a Family Memory Care Program which helps guide you and your family through the Alzheimer’s journey. Research has found that the Family Memory Care program can reduce your stress and increase family support as you care for your loved one living with Alzheimer’s. Our caregiver consultant can meet with you and help assess your situation and discuss your concerns. Our consultant will help you and your family understand Alzheimer’s disease and how the disease may progress over time. We will work with you and your family on developing a plan that supports you. We will discuss strategies for coping with personality and behavior changes and assist you in obtaining resources and other supportive services. At this time there is no charge for this service. NCP is a non-profit organization that is funded by grants from United Way, NYUCI Family Memory Care grant from Administration on Aging, Older Americans Act Title IIIB and by generous donations from businesses and individuals. If you have questions please contact Lisa Porthan at NCP 218-365-8019 or visit our office at 328 West Conan Ely, MN.

Information from Alzheimer’s Association Mayo Clinic guide to Alzheimer’s Disease; Published by Mayo Clinic Health Information Rochester, Minnesota.

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