Jill Andrew interacts with a patient.

By Anika Shah

Tessera of Brandon, an assisted living community in Brandon, is offering hybrid support groups for dementia, Alzheimer’s or any other type of memory loss.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, Tessera of Brandon was forced to convert all three in-person support classes to online. Now, as the world is opening, it will be having in-person, socially distanced groups and online classes running simultaneously on every fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. and every fourth Wednesday of the month at 2 p.m. They will be starting their hybrid classes in June.

Jill Andrew, director of community relations at Tessera of Brandon, explained that the support group is for “anyone that is caring for … someone in your family, a neighbor or in your church … that you are coming in contact with that has some kind of memory loss.”

At the groups, Andrew, who has been working in the industry for 16 years, “fills their toolbox with tools” on how to care for someone with memory loss. More than that, she expounded that as “we walk alongside them on this journey, they become friends.”

Many times, the most invaluable knowledge is communicated when the older, more experienced members share advice with the younger newcomers.

Andrew explained, “The cool thing about support groups is that those that are in the journey or along the journey don’t hesitate to help others with giving examples of how, for example, utilizing a black mat in front of the door helped their loved one from not going out the door … simple things like that.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, most people discontinued their support groups, but Andrew recognized that in these changing times, there is even more of a need for folks to stay connected. In the online classes, the group was able to communicate with people from all over the United States, including Jacksonville and Maryland. Having a hybrid system will allow the support groups to continue to help those beyond the Tampa area.

To learn more about Tessera of Brandon and its support groups, visit tesserabrandon.com or call 607-6880 to be added to the email list. It is located at 1320 Oakfield Dr. in Brandon.

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