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The Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter is now offering statewide Theatre Thursdays, a virtual theater program developed for people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), Early Stage Alzheimer’s or dementia.

This free six-week course is designed to provide entertaining and therapeutic social engagement for persons living with early stage dementia or MCI and their care partners. Denise Arribas, a professional actor in the Atlanta area, will use improvisational, theater and storytelling techniques in an innovative approach to provide education and to engage participants socially.

In response to the COVID-19 recommendations, the Alzheimer’s Association will be offering this program virtually.

“I’m elated to be able to use all the skills that I’ve learned as an actor, especially a theater actor, and use it to bring joy and connection during these difficult times,” said Denise Arribas.

“Since my mom got diagnosed eight years ago, I’ve been passionate about figuring out ways to engage with those living with Alzheimer’s, and it is a dream of mine to be able to share my love for theater as a way to engage,” Arribas said. “It is my hope that this program will help everyone feel more connected and less isolated.”

Early-Stage refers to people, irrespective of age, who are diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment, Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders in the beginning stages of the disease. Carpe Diem Club is the evidence-based Early Stage Program of the Georgia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Members meet to learn, share, support and have fun.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2018 Dementia Care Practice Recommendations, it is important to adopt a positive, hopeful approach to care in all stages of dementia in order to encourage the person who has received a diagnosis and their care partners.

“According to neurologists, creative theater including improvisation, storytelling and reading involves multi-sensory brain responses that have been shown to provide therapeutic benefits in dementia,” added Mary Caldwell, Early Stage Program director from the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter.

“The Alzheimer’s Association recognizes that those living with dementia and their care partners are facing unprecedented isolation this winter due to COVID-19 concerns. With that in mind, we are introducing Theatre Thursdays with Denise to foster connection, warmth and a new way to have fun together.”

To learn more or to register, call 800-272-3900 or email Mary Caldwell at mlcaldwell@alz.org.

In addition to the virtual theater classes, Alzheimer’s Association offers other virtual education, programs and support groups throughout the state. To learn more, visit alz.org/Georgia.

More than 16 million family and friends, including 540,000 in Georgia, provide unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias in the United States. To help family caregivers navigate the current complex and quickly changing environment, the Alzheimer’s Association has also offered additional guidance to families at alz.org/COVID19. For more information, call 1-800-272-3900.

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