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'Understanding the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's Disease'

November 06, 2013 - Brandon Twp.- Misplacing car keys, forgetting an appointment or grasping for a word or name that is "on the tip of the tongue," all fall within the normal range of memory lapse.

For someone who cares for an elder, has aging parents, or is entering their senior years themselves, however, such forgetfulness may be of increasing concern.

A new program at the library aims to address when such issues may be pointing to a larger problem.

"Understanding the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's Disease" is planned for 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., Nov. 11, at the library, 304 South St., Ortonville and is sponsored by the Ortonville Rotary Club.

"We'll be stressing the difference between normal aging and changes in individuals that are experiencing dementia and changes in memory that affect daily life," said Debra Mittelbach.

The volunteer educator with the Alzheimer's Association is a certified dementia practitioner and licensed nursing home administrator with more than 25 years in geriatric wellness and development. For the past nine years, she has dedicated her career to dementia-related illness.

The 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's Disease are short-term memory loss; difficulty performing routine tasks; visual issues; mood and personality changes; reality disorientation; mobility issues; challenges with planning and solving problems; verbal skill changes; misplacing items; and withdrawal from social activities.

Commonly associated age onset of the disease is in the 60s or 70s, but can occur as early as the 30s, Mittelbach said, and not all signs need to be present for a diagnosis, just a few that interfere with how a person lives independently, creating issues. Currently, 6 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer's Disease, which is the sixth leading cause of death in this country. Worldwide, a person is diagnosed every 71 seconds with the ailment, one of 60 types of dementia a person can have, Mittelbach said.

She plans to discuss during the program mild cognitive impairment, a diagnosis given by physicians when they are uncertain which type of dementia is present, but always an indication that changes are coming.

She explains that people with Alzheimer's Disease or other dementia-related illnesses are often frustrated or anxious because life isn't making sense anymore. They may take their frustrations out on those they love, accusing them of stealing or doing other things their family members would never do.

Family members in denial may have difficulty seeing the changes.

"The program is intended for any individual who is caring for someone with dementia-related illness already, or those who are interested in learning more about what the signs and symptoms look like and what resources are available for families," Mittelbach said. "The whole purpose of this talk is to create awareness so they have a better understanding of the changes occurring in their loved one."

Awareness can bring a diagnosis and medication regime to extend quality of life, as well as enabling the patient and family the ability to plan for the future.

"Alzheimer's is a long and expensive journey, but it's better to have the diagnosis to set up a medical and financial team and options down the road," Mittelbach said. "We need to eliminate the stigma that goes along with aging, they are still real people out there, they just have deficits and we can help."

Details: 248-627-1460.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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