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Alzheimer’s Association offers advice for families

POSTED January 17, 2012 9:21 p.m.

January is a busy time for the Alzheimer’s Association. The organization receives an increased number of calls from concerned family members who noticed a change in a loved one during holiday visits. For some families, the holidays are the only time they see elderly relatives. Those visits can be a challenge for children, grandchildren and other family members who see personality changes in their loved one.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter estimates that over 9,000 people in Stanislaus County will have Alzheimer’s disease by 2015. Many of those adults afflicted with Alzheimer’s will live in the Turlock area. The Alzheimer’s Association has advice for families who know, or might suspect, that their loved one has Alzheimer’s disease.

“It’s important to seek guidance and support as soon as possible if you notice cognitive changes that disrupt daily life in yourself or someone else,” said Elizabeth Edgerly, chief program officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter. “Early detection of Alzheimer’s disease gives people with Alzheimer’s the opportunity to plan for their future and take advantage of the resources that are currently available to them.”

Alzheimer’s mostly affects adults age 65 or older. Younger adults are also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but at much lower rates. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer's live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.

Family members might notice certain signs of Alzheimer’s before others. The most noticeable symptom of Alzheimer’s is memory loss that disrupts daily life. This could be confusion with time or place, misplacing things or losing the ability to retrace steps, trouble finding the right words or calling things by the wrong name. Occasional or mild trouble in those areas could be normal, but consistent or severe memory trouble could be a symptom of Alzheimer’s.

Changes in mood or personality, decreased or poor judgment, trouble with problem solving and planning could also be symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Family or friends who notice any of these symptoms are urged by the Alzheimer’s Association to consult a doctor immediately. The Alzheimer’s Association can also answer questions on their 24 hour helpline 1-800-272-3900.

There are help and support groups in the area for anyone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or caring for an adult with Alzheimer’s. Paramount Court Senior Living hosts an Alzheimer’s disease support group from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Thursday. For more information about the support group, call Sheryl at 664-9500.

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease, visit alz.org/norcal or call 1-800-272-3900.   

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail agoodwin@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.

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