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Coping with Alzheimerís disease

[OCT. 23, 2001]  Susan, a 51-year-old area woman, used to look forward to her visits to Virginia Beach to see her mother, Lou. They would comb the sandy beaches, looking for additions to Louís shell collection and take road trips to Texas or Rhode Island.

"We did a lot of traveling. We would just get in the car and go. One year, we rented a motor home, which is something I always wanted to do, and we went to Florida. We had a blast just being together and enjoying each otherís company. I was looking forward to retiring ó we had lots of plans to travel," she said.

In the past two years, both womenís lives have changed dramatically. There are no future travel plans, and even a trip to the grocery store or a simple conversation can be a difficult experience.

"Sometimes my mother doesnít even know who I am, and itís only going to get worse," Susan said.

Susanís mother was diagnosed with Alzheimerís disease, a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain, which results in impaired memory, thinking and behavior. The disease, which affects four million people nationwide, is the fourth leading cause of death in adults.

Although there were warning signs for the past decade, it was only a few years ago that the situation required prompt action. Susan, (who requested that her last name not be used), moved her mother back to central Illinois and became her primary caregiver while maintaining a full-time job. She is in the process of selling her own home so she can move into a house with her mother.

Although Susan has two married brothers who live out of state, she made the decision to take care of her mother.

"Fortunately for me, Iím the only daughter and donít have a spouse and kids. But even if I had a family, Iím the one thatís closest to her, and I can relate to her," she said.

"My life has totally unraveled. But Iím willing to do this. Sheís my mom, and you want to provide and protect (your mom)," she said.

Despite good intentions, the burdens of caring for a loved one with the disease can be overwhelming.

"You have to have a sense of humor or youíll cry. I cry a lot and get angry a lot. I would recommend (to others) to find a support group and learn what you can and canít do. My job is not to make her happy; my job is to protect and provide for her. At times I get angry at her and the disease. You need to get counseling and deal with feelings of anger and guilt and realize you can only do so much," she said.

"In the patientís mind, the bad guy is the caregiver. My mom gets upset with me, because she thinks Iím the one who wonít let her go back home to Virginia or spend money. You have to accept that. I will look back on this and know I did the best I could."

Experts predict that by the year 2050, as many as14 million in the United Sates will have the disease. While people of all ages can suffer from the disease, research shows that the older a person gets, the higher the risk is of getting the disease.

When German physician Alois Alzheimer first described the disease in 1907, it was rare. Today, Alzheimerís disease is the most common cause of dementia, affecting 10 percent of people over the age of 65 and nearly half of people aged 85 and older. However, because of improved testing and greater public awareness, physicians are seeing an increase in diagnosed patients in their 40s and 50s. Alzheimerís disease strikes both men and women and all races and socioeconomic groups. In Illinois 540,000 people are affected by Alzheimerís disease.

Before the disease, Susanís 72-year-old mother was an immaculate housekeeper who loved to sew, crochet, travel, read and collect shells.

"She has four bookcases full of books. She loved to read. Now, she can read one newspaper all week long. Seeing her die emotionally and physically is sad. She writes me little notes, and her spelling is atrocious. She was always able to express herself well. Now, we have no meaningful conversations. We talk about things in the past. In five minutes, she can repeat the same story four times," she said.

Now, itís the little things they have found they can do together that eases some of the pain of the situation, liking taking their dogs for a walk in the park or going out for a milkshake ó two of her motherís favorite things.

Susan said there are three things that are really difficult about her motherís disease. "The dreams of the future are decimated. My mother says hurtful things because of paranoia. I have to step back and realize itís the disease and not my mother talking, but itís hard to not personalize it. Also, the randomness and unpredictability of the disease ó one minute sheís there and the next sheís gone," she said. "Her reality and my reality are two different things. She canít live in my reality, so I have to live in hers."

Through a support group, Susan is learning not only how to deal with her motherís disease, but also recognizing how to take care of herself and what her limitations are.

"Itís surprising how comforting it is. You realize youíre not the only one, and you learn about ideas of how to handle situations. Just being able to talk about it helps. Itís a lifeline," she says of her support group.

James Dearing, program manager at the Great Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimerís Association, said loss of memory is the most frustrating aspect of the disease, for both the person with the disease and their family.

"Forgetting names and memories they have shared is very troubling. Itís very frustrating for spouses and for the children when Mom and Dad forget who they are. And for the patient, forgetting and losing reality in their world is probably one of the most frustrating things," he said. "The disease disorients them to time and place. They may be living in 2001, but they feel like they are living in 1950 and looking for the house they grew up in, for example."

 

 

[to top of second column in this article]

 

Ten warning signs of
Alzheimerís disease

(source: Alzheimerís Association)

*Recent memory loss that affects job

*Difficulty performing familiar tasks

*Problems with language ó forgetting simple words or substituting inappropriate words.

*Disorientation of time and place

*Poor or decreased judgment

*Problems with abstract

*Misplacing things

*Changes in mood or behavior

*Changes in personality

*Loss of initiative

The association is the only national voluntary organization dedicated to conquering Alzheimerís disease through research and providing information and support to people with the disease, their families and caregivers. Founded in 1980 by family caregivers, the association has more than 200 chapters nationwide and is the leading funding source for Alzheimer research after the federal government.

The local chapter focuses on education programs, support groups and offering information to the public. Monthly meetings of a support group at the Oasis in Lincoln were canceled recently, but two support groups meet in Springfield:  at the Hope Presbyterian Church, 2211 Wabash Ave., and at Westminster Presbyterian Church, located at Walnut and Edwards. More information can be obtained by calling 1 (800) 823-1734 for meeting times and dates.

Workshops, seminars and conferences on Alzheimer's disease are also offered throughout the year. The programs, designed to increase knowledge of the disease, are appropriate for family and professional caregivers. Program topics include research developments, caring for the Alzheimer individual and coping strategies.

Dearing said that during his 10 years working in the long-term care health field, he developed a passion for working with Alzheimerís patients and their families to ensure they received a good quality of life. He advises people who are diagnosed with the disease and their family members to prepare for the future as soon as possible.

"After the initial shock, people should find out as much as they can and know what to expect, including legal issues. They need to be proactive and need to be aware of their options later on in life. From diagnosis, this disease can last from two to 20 years," he said.

Matters that should be addressed in the early stages of the disease are legal issues, such as power of attorney, a will and health care proxy; health care insurance; financial affairs, such as bank accounts, stock certificates and mutual funds; and future housing options.

While it may seem premature to think about those issues in the early stages of the disease, Dearing said matters that require judgment and attention to detail is best done early, while the person with the disease is able to make decisions.

Even though Alzheimerís is an incurable illness, there are important interventions, including medical and behavioral treatments, that can treat some of its symptoms. This is especially true if the disease is diagnosed early.

If a person suffers from several of the 10 warning signs, such as disorientation, poor judgment and changes in personality, they are advised to see a physician. Not everyone with Alzheimerís disease has all of the warning signs, and not all signs have to occur for the disease to be present. Experts advise contacting a health care professional for an evaluation if you have concerns or show several of the warning signs.

Most people with Alzheimerís live about eight to 10 years after symptoms appear, but life expectancy varies widely.

The three most common stages of the disease are mild, moderate and severe.

The first, or mild stage, usually lasts two to four years. People in this phase may say the same thing over and over, get lost easily and undergo personality changes, among other symptoms.

The moderate stage of the disease is often the one that last the longest, from two to 10 years. People in this phase may become more confused about recent events, believe things are real when they arenít, require close supervision, pace, argue more often and have problems with simple daily activities.

The final stage of the disease, which lasts from one to three years, requires constant care, 24 hours a day. Those in the final stage may not use or understand words, recognize family members or care for themselves.

Additional information on the disease is available at the Greater Illinois Springfield office at (217) 726-5184 or this website:
www.alzheimers-illinois.org

[Penny Zimmerman-Wills]

 


Marijuana use is on the rise among youth

[OCT. 15, 2001]  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrationís most recent "National Household Survey on Drug Abuse" showed a dramatic increase in the first-time use of marijuana by youngsters ages 12 to 17. Although the rates are still well below the peak of 15 years ago, they have more than doubled since 1992. Because of this alarming trend in drug use, there is an urgent need to educate young people about the dangers associated with marijuana use.

SAMHSAís Center for Substance Abuse Prevention has joined forces with Logan-Mason Mental Health to respond to this alarming trend in drug use. Logan-Mason Mental Health is a local organization that is dedicated to prevention efforts. Alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse prevention programs are accessible to every seventh- and eighth-grader in Logan County through Logan-Mason Mental Healthís prevention specialist. Through its efforts, the local organization is fighting to prevent a continued increase in marijuana use among the young people in Lincoln and Logan County.

There are numerous misconceptions about marijuana, which lead many teens and preteens, and some parents, to believe it is harmless ó even though marijuana is an illegal drug, and using it can bring serious consequences. Consider the following facts:

ē  Marijuana use increases risk of injury. Marijuana or hashish-related emergency room visits increased by 17 percent between 1994 and 1996, and increased 219 percent since 1990.

ē  Marijuana is often used in combination with other illegal and dangerous drugs, such as PCP and crack cocaine, and its use increases the risk of involvement in other criminal activities.

 

[to top of second column in this article]

ē  In 1995, more than 120,000 people who entered drug treatment programs reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse.

ē  Marijuana use causes a loss of inhibitions, which can lead to behaviors that have lifelong negative consequences.

"It is vital that we educate the young people in our community about the dangers of marijuana use," said Kristi Simpson, prevention specialist for Logan-Mason Mental Health. "Many teens and preteens think marijuana is cool ó use is on the rise even for 12-year-olds. We must fight the glamorization of marijuana by arming our kids with the facts."

Simpson goes into all the Logan County public schools presenting programs on life skills to seventh-graders and the truth about drugs to eighth-graders.

To receive free, valuable information about marijuana and other illicit drugs, contact the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, 1 (800) 729-6686 or TTY 1 (800) 487-4889, or visit http://www.health.org/reality.

For more information about substance abuse prevention efforts in Lincoln and Logan County, call Kristi Simpson of Logan-Mason Mental Health at (217) 735-2272.

[Logan-Mason Mental Health news release]


Flu season is soon to be upon us

[OCT. 5, 2001]  Logan County Health Department will have flu and pneumonia immunizations available beginning Monday, Oct. 15. 

The flu and pneumonia shots will be available at the Health Department, 109 Third St., on a walk-in basis during normal business hours, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and on the Mobile Medical Van at regular scheduled times of operation. Both facilities are closed on Monday, Oct. 8, and Monday, Nov. 12.

The cost for flu shots is $14, and pneumonia shots are $17. Medicare will pay for flu and pneumonia shots; clients must bring their Medicare card to the clinics with them. Medicaid will also pay for flu shots; clients must bring their Medicaid card with them.

People at high risk should get the flu shot as soon as the vaccine is available. Those at high risk include:

ē  People 65 years of age or older.

ē  People with serious long-term health problems.

ē  People with immune system problems.

ē  Women who will be in second or third trimester of pregnancy during flu season.

ē  Children receiving long-term aspirin therapy.

ē  Employees of nursing homes or other chronic care facilities.

ē  Health-care workers or anyone coming in close contact with people at risk of serious influenza.

 

 

[to top of second column in this article]

Everyone else should wait until November for flu shots. October and November are the optimal months for receiving flu vaccination. Centers for Disease Control recommends, however, that vaccination continues into December, January and beyond ó as long as vaccine is available.

Flu clinics on Monday, Oct. 22, and Monday, Oct. 29, from 8 to 11:30 a.m. are recommended for women only, as Logan County Health Department will also offer free osteoporosis screenings and breast cancer awareness information, along with flu shots. Women over 50 years of age are encouraged to get the free bone density screening as well as educational materials. The bone density screenings will be done by radiology technicians at Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital. The screenings are funded by the Illinois Department of Public Health, Office of Womenís Health. No other Health Department services will be available during these times except WIC.

For more information, contact Logan County Health Department at (217) 735-2317.

[News release]

 


Health Matters

A monthly feature from  Logan County Health Department


Lincoln Park District

 

Red Cross

Red Cross blood drives in November

Lincoln Elementary School District 27 will sponsor Red Cross blood drives at the Lincoln Sports Complex on Nov. 7 and 21. Hours on Nov. 7 will be noon until 5 p.m., and on Nov. 21 the hours will be noon until 6 p.m. Donors are encouraged to call (800) 728-3543, Ext. 441, to make an appointment. However, walk-ins are always welcome.

In October, two people reached the one-gallon mark in their donations: Joyce Hyde and Glenn Shanle.


Events

November 2001


Wednesday, Nov. 7
SPONSOR: Lincoln Elementary School District 27
WHO: Public
WHAT: Red Cross blood drive

WHERE: Lincoln Sports Complex
WHEN: noon - 5 pm

Wednesday, Nov. 21
SPONSOR: Lincoln Elementary School District 27
WHO: Public
WHAT: Red Cross blood drive

WHERE: Lincoln Sports Complex
WHEN: noon - 6 pm

Thursday, Nov. 29
SPONSOR: OSF St. Joseph Medical Center
WHO: Public; preregistration required; call 1 (800) 407-4557
WHAT: Life Line Screening (stroke prevention and osteoporosis screening)

WHERE: Friendship Manor

 

 

 


Honors & Awards

Announcements

10 minutes that could save your life!

Community stroke prevention screening at Friendship Manor

[NOV. 2, 2001]  Life Line Screening will be available at Friendship Manor in Lincoln on Thursday, Nov. 29. Life Line Screening is a mobile health screening service that screens for stroke, abdominal aortic aneurysm, peripheral arterial disease and osteoporosis (for women only).

With the use of ultrasound and Doppler equipment, Life Line Screening can view the arteries. The first test views the carotid arteries, looking for plaque buildup, where 75 percent of strokes originate. A second test checks the aortic vessel in the abdomen for a breakdown in the lining of the vessel. This is known as an abdominal aortic aneurysm. A third test, an A.B.I., is performed to screen the lower extremities for plaque buildup, known as peripheral arterial disease. This disease is directly linked to coronary heart disease. The fourth test, for osteoporosis, screens for abnormal bone mass density in women over age 45. This disease is painless and silent in its early stages. Results are read by a board-certified physician and mailed within 10 business days.

Screening fees are $40 for stroke-carotid, $40 for abdominal aortic aneurysm, $40 for peripheral vascular disease, or $99 for complete vascular screening, which includes the preceding three tests. Osteoporosis screening (for women only) is $35. The cost for all four tests is $125.

Preregistration is required; call 1 (800) 407-4557.

The screening is sponsored by OSF St. Joseph Medical Center.

[News release]

 

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Mobile health unit schedule

The Rural Health Partnership has announced the schedule for its mobile health unit. Effective Feb. 1, 2001, the unit will run as follows:

 

Morning: 9-11 a.m.

 

 

Afternoon: 1-3:30 p.m.

Monday

1st and 3rd

Hartsburg

1st and 3rd

Emden

 

2nd and 4th

San Jose

2nd and 4th

Greenview

Tuesday

Weekly

Chestnut

Weekly

Mount Pulaski

Wednesday

Weekly

New Holland

Weekly

Middletown

Thursday

1st, 2nd, 3rd

Elkhart

Weekly

Atlanta

4th

Friendship Manor-Lincoln

Friday

1st, 2nd, 4th

Latham

1st

Beason

     

2nd and 4th

Broadwell

 

3rd

Maintenance/ special events

3rd

Maintenance/
special events

The mobile health unit does not operate on the following dates/holidays during 2001:  Feb. 19 (Presidentís Day), April 13 (Good Friday), May 28 (Memorial Day), July 4 (Independence Day), Sept. 3 (Labor Day), Oct. 8 (Columbus Day), Nov. 12 (Veterans Day), Nov. 22-23 (Thanksgiving break), and Dec. 24 - Jan. 1, 2002 (Christmas break).

For more information on the mobile health unit schedule and services, contact Dayle Eldredge at (217) 732-2161, Ext. 409.


This family resource list to save and use is provided by the Healthy Communities Partnership (732-2161, Ext. 409) and the Healthy Families Task Force.         

Resources for Logan County families

Agency

Phone number

Address

911

911 (Emergencies)
732-3911 (Office -- non-emergency)

911 Pekin St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital

732-2161

315 Eighth St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Aging (Department of)

785-3356

421 E. Capitol, #100
Springfield, IL 62701-1789

American Cancer Society

546-7586 (24 hour)

1305 Wabash, Ste. J
Springfield, IL 62704

American Red Cross

732-2134
1-800-412-0100

125 S. Kickapoo
Lincoln, IL 62656

Catholic Social Services

732-3771

310 S. Logan
Lincoln, IL 62656

Chamber of Commerce

735-2385

303 S. Kickapoo St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Community Action (CIEDC)

732-2159

1800 Fifth St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Community Child Care Connection

525-2805
1-800-676-2805

1004 N. Milton Ave.
Springfield, IL 62702-443

Crisis Pregnancy Center

735-4838

513 Pulaski St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

DCFS (Department of Children & Family Services)

735-4402
1-800-252-2873
(crisis hotline)

1100 Keokuk St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Heartland Community College GED Program

735-1731

620 Broadway St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Hospice Care of Illinois

1-800-342-4862
(24 hour)
732-2161, Ext. 444

720 N. Bond
Springfield, IL 62702

Housing Authority

732-7776
732-6312 (24 hour)

1028 N. College St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Illinois Breast & Cervical Cancer Program

735-2317
1-800-269-4019

LCHD - 109 Third St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Illinois Department of Public Health

782-4977

535 W. Jefferson
Springfield, IL 62761

Illinois Employment and Training Center (replaces JTPA office)

735-5441

120 S. McLean St., Suite B
Farm Bureau Building
Lincoln, IL 62656

Legal Assistance Foundation

(217) 753-3300
1-800-252-8629

730 E. Vine St., Ste. 214
Springfield, IL 62703

Library - Atlanta

(217) 648-2112

100 Race St.
Atlanta, IL 61723

Library - Elkhart

(217) 947-2313

121 E. Bohan
Elkhart, IL 62634

Library - Lincoln

732-8878

725 Pekin St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Library - Mount Pulaski

792-5919

320 N. Washington
Mount Pulaski, IL 62548

Lincoln Area YMCA

735-3915

319 W. Kickapoo St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Lincoln/Logan Food Pantry

732-2204

P.O. Box 773
Lincoln, IL 62656

Lincoln Parentsí Center

735-4192

100 S. Maple
Lincoln, IL 62656

Lincoln Park District

732-8770

1400 Primm Rd.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Logan County Department of Human Services (Public Aid)

735-2306

1550 Fourth St., P.O. Box 310
Lincoln, IL 62656

Logan County Health Department

735-2317

109 Third St., P.O. Box 508
Lincoln, IL 62656

Logan Mason Mental Health

735-2272
1-888-832-3600
(crisis line)

304 Eighth St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Logan-Mason Rehabilitation Center

735-1413

760 S. Postville Dr.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Oasis (Senior Citizens of Logan County)

732-6132

501 Pulaski St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Project READ

735-1731

620 Broadway St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Salvation Army

732-7890

1501 N. Kickapoo
Lincoln, IL 62656

Senior Services of Central Illinois

732-6213
1-800-252-8966
(crisis line)

109 Third St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

Sojourn Shelter & Service Inc.

732-8988
(217) 726-5200 (24-hour hotline)

1800 Westchester Blvd.
Springfield, IL 62704

U. of I. Division of Specialized Care for Children

524-2000

1-800-946-8468

421 S. Grand Ave. West, 2nd Floor
Springfield, IL 62704

U. of I. Extension Service

732-8289

122 S. McLean St.
Lincoln, IL 62656

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