North Dakota Dementia Caregiver Training Sessions Begin Today

The first of five free Ecumen-hosted educational sessions for caregivers of people with dementia in rural areas of North Dakota begin today.

The first educational session and luncheon is today (October 13, 2015) in Grafton, N.D., at the Market Place Restaurant, 43 E. 8th Street, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Tomorrow a session will be held in Rugby, N.D., at Dakota Farms Restaurant, 308 3rd Avenue SE, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We want to give people the resources they need to keep their loved ones safe and in the home for as long as possible,” said Judy Blaseg, Ecumen Executive Vice President of Philanthropy.  “The vast majority of people with dementia live at home — not in senior care communities.”

Caregivers will receive training in techniques for safely and compassionately dealing with dementia-related behaviors and helping their loved ones stay active and engaged. Both family and professional caregivers are encouraged to attend.

The sessions will be conducted by Maria Reyes, RN, a nationally known dementia care expert who is the Project Director of Ecumen Awakenings.  A sought-after speaker on nursing and dementia care, Reyes has worked across all long-term care settings (nursing homes, assisted living and home care) and held several key leadership roles at Ecumen, including serving as a Director of Nursing for a major care center, establishing a new short-term rehabilitation center, and helping launch an Ecumen home care agency as Clinical Director.

The sessions are funded by a grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation. Ecumen has received national recognition for its Ecumen Awakenings program — an approach to dementia care focused on replacing the use of highly sedating drugs with individualized care and holistic therapies emphasizing personal connections.

After the training sessions, attendees have the option of signing up for follow-up support and assistance. Ecumen professionals will contact participants to talk about their specific needs and help direct them to services in their area.

Three additional sessions are scheduled in November from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. as follows:

  • Carrington, N.D., November 17, Chieftain Conference Center
  • Mott, N.D., November 18, Knights of Columbus Hall
  • Ashley, N.D., November 19, The Roost Bar and Grill

To sign up for a session, go to and fill out the registration form, or call 651-766-4335.