Thursday, November 14, 2013

Home for the holidays...and noticing changes in older relatives

KNOW THE 10 WARNING SIGNS OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
BEFORE HEADING HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS 

Early Detection Empowers Families to Plan for the Future


The holiday season is a time families gather and spend quality time with loved ones. It is also a time that can raise questions about the cognitive health of aging family members. With Alzheimer’s disease in particular, it is important to know what it is and what it is not normal aging.  Below is a list of warning signs along with examples of normal aging.  If you notice any of the warning signs in your aging family members, the Alzheimer’s Association recommends that you see a doctor.  The Association is available 24/7 for any questions regarding memory loss by calling 800.272.3900.

Alzheimer’s Association 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

1.     Memory loss that disrupts daily life.  One of the most common signs of Alzheimer's is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; relying on memory aides such as reminder notes or family members for things they used to handle on one’s own.
What's typical: Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later. 

2.     Challenges in planning or solving problems.  Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
What's typical: Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.

3.     Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.  People with Alzheimer's often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
What's typical: Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.

4.     Confusion with time or place:  People with Alzheimer's can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
What's typical: Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later. 

5.     Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.  For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer's. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast. In terms of perception, they may pass a mirror and think someone else is in the room. They may not realize they are the person in the mirror.
What's typical: Vision changes related to cataracts.

6.     New problems with words in speaking or writing.  People with Alzheimer's may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a "watch" a "hand-clock").
What's typical: Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

7.     Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.  A person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.
What's typical: Misplacing things from time to time, such as a pair of glasses or the remote control.

8.     Decreased or poor judgment.  People with Alzheimer's may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
What's typical: Making a bad decision once in a while.

9.     Withdrawal from work or social activities.  A person with Alzheimer's may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.
What's typical: Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.

10.  Changes in mood and personality.  The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer's can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.
What's typical: Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

“Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias is an important step in getting appropriate treatment, care and support service,” said Nancy Udelson, Executive Director, Cleveland Area Chapter.

Benefits of an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Benefit from treatments that may improve symptoms and help maintain a level of independence longer
  • Have more time to plan for the future
  • Increase chances of successfully finding a clinical drug trial through Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch, helping advance research
  • Participate in decisions about their care, transportation, living options, financial and legal matters
  • Develop a relationship with doctors and care partners
  • Benefit from care and support services, making it easier for them and their family to manage the disease


Anyone with questions about Alzheimer’s disease and/or seeking information should contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 toll-free helpline at 800.272.3900.  Experts are available to take calls from individuals concerned with their own cognitive health as well as from family members and friends who may be concerned about a loved one and are seeking resources.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Below is a poem from Evan Collins who lost his grandpa to Alzheimer’s disease. He wrote the poem when he was 11. The family recently participated in Walk to End Alzheimer's in memory of Don Wendorff, Sr.

Thank you to Evan and his aunt Diane Wendorff for sharing with us. :)

Grandpa

I don’t remember my grandpa without his disease,
always confusion in his eyes.
Never knew him for the man he really was,
though people tell me he was funny.
all those heartfelt memories
that he can no longer reminisce.
His last Easter,
all he did was pray,
instead of talking with the family that used to be.
Last thing I ever heard him say was,
“Who are you?” and “Why are you in my bedroom?”
We took hours of mourning,
while he lay helplessly on his death-bed.
Still conscious, he yelled in his head,
battling between life and death.
His last hours were taken in silence,
maybe because he didn’t know the people
in his room, not even his wife.
It was hard for me to see him in pain,
for his body forgot how to eat and breathe.
I don’t remember my grandpa without his disease,
Always confusion in his eyes.
Though I’m unaware of his kindness and humor,
I will still love him for who I knew him as:
My Grandpa.

~Evan Collins




Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How do you know when it's time to hand over the keys?

Warning signs that it may be time to stop driving

Losing the ability to drive can feel like a threat to a person’s independence. Planning ahead can help ease the transition while providing an opportunity to make choices to ensure safety. 

Determining when someone can no longer safely drive requires careful observation by family and caregivers. 

The following list provides warning signs that it's time to stop driving:
Forgetting how to locate familiar places
Failing to observe traffic signs
Making slow or poor decisions in traffic
Driving at an inappropriate speed
Becoming angry or confused while driving
Hitting curbs
Using poor lane control
Making errors at intersections
Confusing the brake and gas pedals
Returning from a routine drive later than usual
Forgetting the destination you are driving to during the trip

Find more help at the Alzheimer’s Association Dementia and Driving Resource Center, an interactive website created with support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  You’ll find video scenarios, tips and strategies.
www.alz.org/driving

http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-and-driving.asp#ixzz2VM9pRFXB

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Joe Trela's Speech from the 2013 A Celebration of Hope Dinner


Good Evening -- I am very pleased and blessed to be here tonight to tell you a bit about my Mom, Mary Trela.  Mom and Dad raised nine of us – and as the baby, or Caboose, as my Mom called me – I think I have served my role as Mom’s favorite pretty darn well these last 25 years!  It is, therefore, my honor to tell you about how Mom’s ongoing battle with Alzheimer’s disease has impacted me so that you understand how much I appreciate your support.

Mom was diagnosed my junior year of college in 2007 at the age of 57.  Only 5% of those with Alzheimer’s are diagnosed before 65.  You can imagine then, how alone I felt because no one my age had a parent who was no longer able to speak her mind, cook dinner, or drive to deliver communion to the homebound on Sundays.  
My whole life I could always count on her love, support, and enthusiastic smiles.  But for more than 3 years, when I couldn't bear to even tell my best friends about Mom - I almost felt Mom was at fault for her condition!  Then, I did not understand that Alzheimer’s doesn't play favorites.
I still struggle with some harsh realities of the cruel nature of Alzheimer’s as a 25-year old man:
·         Alzheimer’s melted away my afternoons watching TV and eating ice cream with Mom.
·         Alzheimer’s prevented my Mom from knowing how proud I was to treat Mom and Dad to dinner after my first paycheck.
·         Alzheimer’s has cut in on my Mother-Son dance at my wedding next summer.
·         Alzheimer’s will have robbed my children the chance to know and love her.
I’m fortunate that I came to realize how precious some of these little moments were – though I fear, I, like many affected by this disease – only come to these realizations when it’s too late in the game.
I’m actually looking forward to the day when we eventually meet each other in heaven.  I’ll swing by to pick up some butter scotch ice cream for her.  Then we’ll go on a long walk talking, laughing, and smiling. 
Mom and her buddy – back together again – without the cloud of dementia selfishly stealing the moments this time.

I cannot thank you all tonight enough for your support of the Alzheimer’s Association and the free programs and services they provide to those affected by the disease.  I am confident that the Alzheimer’s Association’s research efforts we support nationally, and right here in Cleveland, WILL ONE DAY bring my vision of heaven down to earth. 
Our efforts together TODAY will allow a 50-something Mom to reclaim her future before Alzheimer’s steals her mind and body much too early. TOGETHER, we can make sure that this Mom can age gracefully – comfortably enjoying the fruits of her labor and love – because she can be there -- smiling, laughing and radiating happiness -- as her own little “Caboose” grows up, start his career, marries his high school sweetheart, and begins the rest of his life – all with Mom along for the ride!
I would like to also take a brief moment to recognize my dad, Jim Trela.  Dad – you and Mom have been married for 42 years – and your love, support, and unselfish caregiving of your ailing wife these last six years is both humbling and remarkable. As a newly engaged man, I am so fortunate that you have set the standard for what ought to come afterwards when a man agrees to love his spouse by saying, “For better or for worse; and in sickness and in health.” While the memories fade – your love for Mom endures. Thank you, Dad. 

In closing -- my Mom, Mary Trela, inspires me to tackle Alzheimer’s disease.  Thank you for joining me, whatever your inspiration might be.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

2013 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures


We often hear friends talking about neighbors, parents or grandparents who are growing a little forgetful. But, just as likely, we listen to anecdotes about someone who was as sharp as a tack until the day he or she died.

The truth is that the memory-wracking disease of Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of the aging process. We shouldn't expect a lifetime worth of recollections and family connections to gradually disappear as we age.
Yet, a report issued last month by the Alzheimer’s Association found that one in three seniors in America has Alzheimer’s or another dementia when they die. That doesn't mean a third of deaths are caused by Alzheimer’s, but it most certainly means that those loved ones lost a huge part of what made them who they were before they died.

What’s more, according to 2013 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts & Figures, while deaths caused by other major diseases are declining in America, deaths attributed to Alzheimer’s continue to rise – up 68 percent nationwide from 2000-2010. Alzheimer’s is the only leading cause of death in America without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression.

In addition to the memory loss, broken human connections and personality changes faced by families dealing with Alzheimer’s, there are enormous – almost unthinkable – expenses associated with the disease. And not all those costs are borne by the health care system and Medicare or Medicaid. Ohioans provided an estimated $8.2 million in unpaid care to loved ones with Alzheimer’s in 2012, and had to cover an estimated $361 million in additional healthcare costs of their own due to the physical and emotional toll of caregiving.

Many of those who take care of Alzheimer’s patients do so from a distance. 2013 Facts & Figures found that nearly 15 percent of caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia live an hour or more away. And their out-of-pocket costs are nearly twice as high as those of local caregivers.
So, if Alzheimer’s isn't a normal part of aging, yet both incidences of the disease and associated financial and personal costs are skyrocketing, what does that mean?

From my perspective – and, I suspect, from the perspective of every one of the 230,000 Ohioans with Alzheimer’s – it means we have to do more to find, and fight, the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s, and to support those dealing with the disease.

We've made some progress in recent years. Congress passed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, a comprehensive plan for attacking the disease and creating a basis for new resources. Ohio advocates were also successful in getting the Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act signed into law. And there is progress every year on promising research.

The Cleveland Area Chapter provides numerous free services and programs for individuals with memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and their caregivers These services include support groups, care consultation, educational programs, a 24-hour Helpline (800-272-3900), the MedicAlert/Safe Return Program and online resources such as ALZConnected™ and ALZNavigator™.

We also help people with the disease, caregivers and healthy volunteers find Alzheimer’s –related clinical trials through our free service, Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch®.

The Alzheimer’s Association is the largest private funder of Alzheimer’s research in the world, providing significant funding for Alzheimer’s research right here in the Cleveland area.
Virtually every dollar of these funds is donated by generous supporters of the Alzheimer’s Association, here in Northeast Ohio and across the nation. Many of our donors have a personal connection to the disease, and want their children and grandchildren to grow up in a world without Alzheimer’s.   That’s our vision and our goal.

As our chapter holds fundraising events throughout the region, we hope you will join us.  The end of Alzheimer’s starts here.

Nancy Udelson is executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Cleveland Area Chapter, www.alz.org/cleveland.

Monday, November 19, 2012

TIPS TO NAVIGATE THE HOLIDAY SEASON


Heading home for the holidays; know the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

In addition to a new dessert recipe or family vacation photos, bring an important gift home this holiday season and become educated about the warning signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Visiting with relatives over the holidays may raise questions about the physical and cognitive health of family members. Although some change in cognitive ability can occur with age, serious memory problems are not a part of normal aging. Recognizing the difference between normal aging and more serious problems can help you identify when it may be time for your relative to see a doctor.   

The Alzheimer’s Association has seen a rise in calls to its 24-hour helpline, 800-272-3900, during and after the holiday season when people return home and visit with friends and family whom they may not see as frequently during the year. The Alzheimer’s Association encourages anyone to call their helpline if anyone has a question or doubt about the state of an aging family member or friend. 

Every individual may experience one or more of the 10 Warning Signs in different degrees (see below). If you notice any of them, please see a doctor.

Alzheimer’s Association 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life.  One of the most common signs of Alzheimer's is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; relying on memory aides (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on one’s own. 
What's typical: Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.
 
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems.  Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
What's typical: Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.
 
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.  People with Alzheimer's often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game. 
What's typical: Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show. 

4. Confusion with time or place:  People with Alzheimer's can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there. 
What's typical: Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.


5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.  For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer's. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast. In terms of perception, they may pass a mirror and think someone else is in the room. They may not realize they are the person in the mirror. 
What's typical: Vision changes related to cataracts.

6. New problems with words in speaking or writing.  People with Alzheimer's may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a "watch" a "hand-clock"). 
What's typical: Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.  A person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time. 
What's typical: Misplacing things from time to time, such as a pair of glasses or the remote control.

8. Decreased or poor judgment.  People with Alzheimer's may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean. 
What's typical: Making a bad decision once in a while.

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities.  A person with Alzheimer's may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced. 
What's typical: Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.

10. Changes in mood and personality.  The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer's can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone. 
What's typical: Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias is an important step in getting appropriate treatment, care and support services, following are additional benefits to receiving a diagnosis as early as possible:

Benefits of an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease 
Benefit from treatments that may improve symptoms and help maintain a level of independence longer
Have more time to plan for the future
Participate in decisions about their care, transportation, living options, financial and legal matters
Develop a relationship with doctors and care partners
Benefit from care and support services, making it easier for them and their family to manage the disease

Anyone with questions about Alzheimer’s disease and/or seeking information should contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 toll-free helpline at 800-272-3900.  Experts are available to take calls from individuals concerned with their own cognitive health as well as from family members and friends who may be concerned about a loved ones and seeking resources.

Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit alz.org or call 800-272-3900.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Why I Walk... Have an Audrey’s Army moment


by Noel Joyce, West Side Walk Chair
Audrey is my friend.  We’ve laughed together in our bookclub meetings for years.  She’s smart, beautiful, laughs easily, and is one of the kindest, most caring people you’ll ever know.
Last year, after struggling to remember her students’ names, Audrey, an experienced and accomplished teacher, realized something was wrong.  After medical evaluations she was diagnosed with early-onset FTD (fronto-temporal dementia).
Although Audrey is still the same smart, beautiful and compassionate friend, wife and mother, the diagnosis has changed her life.  In her mid-50s, she retired early from teaching.  She and her husband have accelerated many of their life plans: traveling to Hawaii, the shores of Myrtle Beach, as well as other lovely places, with and without their children...all in anticipation of the journey ahead of them as her FTD progresses.
Shortly after her diagnosis, but before many people other than close family and friends were aware, I was recruiting friends to join my team for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  I hoped to have every member of our bookclub walk with us or donate to our team.  However, I worried that Audrey might not want the attention.  So I tentatively asked her permission...
“Would you mind if I recruited walkers to support and honor you?  Would you like to be on my team...or I can help you set up your own team?”  I asked Audrey anxiously one night. 
Her eyes lit up as she said “Oh my gosh, this is how they can help us! Everyone has been asking what they can do, and this would be a way for them to help!”
With that enthusiastic response, I got the go-ahead to recruit our bookclub and other friends for my team, and Audrey and her family decided to launch “Audrey’s Army,” their own Walk team of family and friends!
On Walk Day last September, Audrey’s Army arrived in full—daughter Laura, who coordinated much of the team from University of Akron where she is a student, son Jason, from Dayton, sisters from out-of-state, friends and family from near and far—all who will support them in their difficult journey to come.  They walked together behind a giant banner proclaiming “Audrey’s Army MARCHING to End Alzheimer’s!
I still get goose bumps thinking about my friend’s “Army” of love and support that day.
So why should YOU walk?
Of course...walk to raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association as they take the lead in fighting this disease.  But if you have been touched by Alzheimer’s—if you know someone, love someone, care for someone, or have lost someone with Alzheimer’s—walk to have your own “Audrey’s Army” moment! 
Gather friends and family and spend a morning walking, lifting each other up, and fighting the battle together, in great fun and with great hope, for a future without Alzheimer’s