Presentation to give facts on Alzheimer’s, dementia

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published April 10, 2018

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TROY — The warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease are often dismissed as the normal effects of aging. 

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and millions more serve in the “emotionally and financially draining role of caregiver.”

Lauren Cetnar, an education program coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association – Greater Michigan Chapter, and Cathy Grube, chair of Walk to End Alzheimer’s Detroit, will present “Alzheimer’s and Dementia — Know the 10 Signs” at 7 p.m. April 23 at the Troy Public Library. 

“At the Troy Public Library, we have noticed an increased level of interest in and demand for programs and services related to brain health and related issues, which isn’t surprising given that there are over 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia,” said Constance Doherty, head of adult information services at the Troy Public Library. 

“Our memory care kits, the ‘Brain HQ’ online brain training program, and previous library programs about building a better memory and caring for dementia patients have been very popular with our patrons,” Doherty said. “We hope to continue to provide more of these resources for the community in the future.”

Cetnar said the warning signs/symptoms of Alzheimer’s include memory loss that disrupts daily life, difficulty completing familiar tasks at home or at work, trouble understanding visual images or spatial relationships, withdrawing from work or social activities, and changes in mood or personality. 

Cetnar will discuss these and the other warning signs during the program. 

The presenters will also share resources available to people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and to caregivers. 

“At the first sign, get on it. Go to a doctor,” she said. She explained that medicine won’t stop or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s or dementia, but it can treat the symptoms. 

“People ask, ‘Why go? If I have the disease, what’s the point?’ Really, what we strive for is to rule out other causes and to make sure it’s not something else,” Cetnar said. “Early diagnosis is the only way you can plan for the future.” 

She added that people often show signs or symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia two years before they get a diagnosis. 

Grube said she will share her mother’s story during the program. 

“My mother, Josephine Kallioinen, was never formally diagnosed,” she said. Kallioinen, “a really good cook, started messing up recipes. She used licorice flavor instead of vanilla for her famous cheesecake. We assumed she was making old recipes a new way,” Grube said. 

“It’s a horrible disease,” she said. “It takes memory and dignity.” 

Grube said that as her mother’s disease progressed, she could not recognize loved ones. 

Her mother passed away March 13, 2013, and Grube became involved with the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s at the Detroit Zoo soon after. 

“Over 6,000 people participated last year,” she said. 

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held at the Detroit Zoo Aug. 25. Pre-registration is encouraged. Visit www.act.alz.org or call (248) 996-1044 for more information or to donate. 

A help line is available at the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 at (248) 996-1069. 

People can register for the April 23 presentation at www.troypl.org or by calling (248) 524-3534. 

The library is located at 510 W. Big Beaver Road.