A dementia/alzheimer diagnosis is devastating news that often leads to feelings of anger, shock and fear about the future. Sadness and grief about losing the life you’ve known sets in. Your self-esteem suffers and isolation factors in with those around you unable to understand what’s going on.

On some occasions, those receiving the diagnosis feel a sense of relief to finally have answers to what’s been going on. But conflicting emotions can bubble to the surface and send people down a path of depression or anxiety.

The Dementia Warriors, a Philomath-based support group, can help those diagnosed with any form of dementia/alzheimer at any stage of the disease. The group is also welcoming to family members — spouses, children, caregivers, siblings, anyone who wants to know what they can do to comfort their loved ones as well as learn more about how to support themselves in the role they’ve taken on. Those who have lost a loved one to dementia/alzheimer are invited to participate as well.

Jerry and Kathy Wylie are seen here receiving a certificate of appreciation from the leadership committee. From left, Gregg Olson, Holly Bendixen (back), Kathy Wylie (front, holding certificate), Jerry Wylie, Darlene West and Chuck Stueve.

Founded in June 2017 by Jerry Wylie, The Dementia Warriors support group meets on the first and third Wednesdays each month from 2:30-4 p.m. at Peace Lutheran Church (2540 Applegate St., Philomath). In addition to the meetings, the group also organizes weekly walks, field trips and other fun activities.

The group’s meetings attract 25 to 35 people on average with an overall membership of around 50.

“Our goal is to keep members physically and socially active and to educate and support families,” the group says. “We are different from any other area groups as we are a peer-to-peer support group for the whole family.”

The Dementia Warriors:

• Has changed the lives of numerous people with these diseases as well as their families by supporting them to come forward and step out of the shadows and focus on positive self-care.

• Provides a social structure with camaraderie that includes weekly walks, activities and friendship.

• Provides up-to-date research information through speakers and educational materials, including a lending library of DVDs and books.

• Provides resources for dietary and exercise guidance.

• Promotes pride and self-esteem to the individuals who have these diseases.

• Provides hope to the entire family.

The group’s walks take place in Philomath and Corvallis parks twice a week, weather permitting. Numerous field trips are also organized — for example, a recent excursion took participants to the Country Bakery and Thompson’s Mills in the Halsey-Shedd area and then to Sky High Brewery in Corvallis for lunch. Last year, the Dementia Warriors had the largest group at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Albany and will participate again on Sept. 24 in Corvallis.

This past spring, the organization launched a freezer meal program. A group of women from the group meet at the church kitchen and prepare between 100 and 125 meals to distribute to members who need them each month. A donor contributed a freezer to store the meals until delivery day.

The Dementia Warriors always needs funds to help cover the costs of the freezer meal program, educational materials, durable goods and respite care. If you would like to support the organization’s endeavors, you can send a tax-deductible donation via check payable to Peace Lutheran Church, 2540 Applegate St., Philomath, OR 97370. Please make checks out to Peace Lutheran and write “Dementia Warriors” in the memo.

To reach out to The Dementia Warriors, attend a meeting, visit the organization’s website, send an email to dementiaadvocacy16@gmail.com or call 541-530-8449.