Get educated about Alzheimer’s at Beaver Creek’s Vilar Center Monday, Oct. 2 | VailDaily.com

Get educated about Alzheimer’s at Beaver Creek’s Vilar Center Monday, Oct. 2

Judson Haims

A major cause of mental deterioration among the older-than-65 population is Alzheimer's disease. More than 50 percent of the nursing home residents in this country have a diagnosis of Alzheimer's; yet most of the victims of this disease are cared for at home by family members or private-duty caregivers. This disease is chronic, progressive and ultimately may force the Alzheimer's patient to be totally dependent on others for their care.

If you are looking for information about Alzheimer's, then you should attend a meeting at the Vilar Center on Monday, Oct. 2, at 6:30 p.m. Dr. Maria Carrillom, chief science officer for the Alzheimer's Association will speak at a free event, "The Alzheimer's Epidemic: Research, Progress and Hope."

While the event is free, you need to reserve a ticket. Go to http://www.vilarpac.org for more information.

Gary Wicklund, of the Vail Valley Rotary Clubs and local nonprofit Eagle Valley Senior Life, along with supporters including Eagle County Public Health, Oligomerix Inc., Alpine Area Agency on Aging, Vail Public Library, Castle Peak and TV8 have put this event together.

In order to better help those providing care to those suffering from Alzheimer's disease, below is a brief description of the stages of Alzheimer's disease. As well, there are some important points to be aware of while providing care.

• Stage I: At this beginning stage, many people are able to cover up their memory loss, decreased speech and even their emotional agitation, depression or apathy. During this stage, many persons with Alzheimer's sense that something is changing and, rather than be embarrassed, they simply withdraw from family activities. Family members may not recognize the pattern of deterioration, may not admit to it, or may feel all older people are forgetful and withdrawn.

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• Stage II: During this period extending over many years, the client's memory progressively worsens. He/she may stop speaking, begin wandering and repeat movements in a meaningless way. At this time the persons with Alzheimer's often becomes less involved in his/her care, and less and less a contributing member of his/her family. Often, they may put all types of things in their mouth, his/her appetite may increase and their activity may be in the form of continually pacing small areas.

• Stage III: This is the terminal stage. It is a time when the family must give continual supervision. Their appetite may decrease further and they may need to be coaxed to eat and drink. Some persons may become unresponsive. At this point, persons caring for those with Alzheimer's have to look to professional housing options.

Diagnosing

Predicting the onset of Alzheimer's is often done by measuring levels of abnormal proteins in spinal fluids, PET scans and MRI scans. These methods are both expensive and not always reliable. While still in the early developmental stage, there is progress being made with research in blood tests that may have the ability to predict whether a healthy person may develop Alzheimer's.

Until there is, people concerned about developing Alzheimer's should take an active role in reducing their odds. Events such as the Oct. 2 presentation are invaluable. If you cannot attend, then read about the subject matter. I bought a book called, "Mayo Clinic on Alzheimer's Disease." It's simple and straightforward.

It is difficult to adequately care for an Alzheimer's victim due to the progressive nature of the disease. Addressing the matter is the best choice for achieving positive results.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care. He can be reached at http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns, or 970-328-5526.

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