Alzheimer’s disease. These two words can strike fear into the bravest of souls. I know that the data concerning this issue is overwhelming. I could spend this entire column quoting all the statistics you could want concerning when it strikes, how it progresses, who is the most susceptible, and the odds of getting it. The research is extensive and ongoing and you or I could spend hours reading, listening, learning, and trying to understand it all. Today, however, I want to share some basic facts about dementia and encourage, and maybe educate a little, those who are showing symptoms and those who are seeing these symptoms in their loved ones.
So you’ve lost your keys . . . again. When does a simple annoyance become something more serious? Below, I’ve listed some ways to distinguish the normal from the not so normal.
Can’t find your keys
Search for casual names and words
Briefly forget conversation details
Feel the cold more
Can’t find a recipe
Forget to record a check
Cancel a date with friends
Make an occasional wrong turn Feel occasionally sad
Early Alzheimer’s disease
Routinely place items in odd places, i.e. keys in the refrigerator
Forget names of family members and objects, or use inappropriate word substitutions
Frequently forget entire conversations
Dress regardless of the weather, i.e. shorts in a snow storm
Can’t follow recipe directions
Can no longer manage money or solve abstract problems
Withdraw from usual interests and activities, sit in front of the TV for hours, sleep far more than usual
Get lost in familiar places, can’t find way home
Experience rapid mood swings, from tears to rage, for no discernible reason
If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, see a doctor. Not all memory loss stems from dementia. There are other issues which can cause memory problems so let your doctor be your guide.
Once you have a diagnosis, don’t panic! Living in fear is the surest way to lose the battle in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. Take a deep breath, and get the help you need. Do not go this one alone. The amount of support available is extensive. Find a support group, talk to someone you know who has been through it, seek counsel from your pastor or a counselor and whatever you do, don’t withdraw.
Ned Hedrick, one of our independent residents at Vriendschap Village, who cared for a spouse with Alzheimer’s for many years, shared his thoughts: “Take it one day at a time, find support, and whatever you do, maintain contact with other people.”
Vriendschap Village is offering a way to do just that. You are invited to attend an Alzheimer’s Informational Seminar on April 19, at 7 p.m., in the Independent Living Dining Room. If you have questions or need some help or support, please come! Brenda Colvin, Executive Director of Vriendschap Village, and Nursing Director, Constance Creary, RN MS, will be leading this session and will be available to answer questions. No registration required. Vriendschap Village is also starting an Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support group for families and caregivers. If you are interested, we will be discussing the specifics of this group at the end of the seminar. For more information, please call Kathi Gross at 641-628-8260. Vriendschap Village is located at 2602 Fifield Road in Pella and provides services to Seniors in Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care Assisted Living, and Short Term Stay.
Kathi Gross lives in Pella and works as the Activity/Marketing Director at Vriendschap Village.