Caregivers Conference Held in Scranton

SCRANTON, Pa. -- A gathering that's the first of its kind was held in downtown Scranton on Thursday -- a conference for folks caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or dementia.

A few dozen people gathered at the Hilton Scranton and Conference Center and they all share a title they didn't choose: caregiver.

The Pennsylvania chapter of the Alzheimer's Association hosted a conference for folks who care for a loved one with the disease.

"This is brand new to northeastern and central Pennsylvania," said Kristen Shipsky, Alzheimer's Association. "It had started in Pittsburgh and in Erie. We decided we were going to take it over and make it bigger and better."

The association streamed the daylong conference online for people who couldn't leave their loved ones home alone.

Cyndi Colman is a registered nurse working in home health. She's spent a career caring for people with Alzheimer's but on this day, she's here as a caregiver.

"This is a personal area in our lives as well because my mother-in-law has Alzheimer's and dementia," Colman said.

Doctors and nurses spoke to the crowd, trying to help caregivers understand what their loved ones are going through.

"It really hit home for my husband and helped him to help his family adapt," Colman said.

Colman walked away reminded that she isn't alone.

"Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and it's the only one in the top ten causes that doesn't have anything to slow it down, and has nothing to stop it," Shipsky said.

Organizers say camaraderie may be the best lesson here.

"Sometimes you just need somebody who has been there, done that to be the person that you talk to. Because they get it," Shipsky added.

Organizers hope to make the caregivers conference an annual event.