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.
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.
my mother doesnít even know who I am, and itís only going to get
worse," Susan said.
mother was diagnosed with Alzheimerís disease, a progressive,
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.
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.
Susan has two married brothers who live out of state, she made the
decision to take care of her mother.
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.
life has totally unraveled. But Iím willing to do this. Sheís my
mom, and you want to provide and protect (your mom)," she said.
good intentions, the burdens of caring for a loved one with the
disease can be overwhelming.
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.
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."
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.
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
Illinois 540,000 people are affected by Alzheimerís disease.
the disease, Susanís 72-year-old mother was an immaculate
housekeeper who loved to sew, crochet, travel, read and collect
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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
warning signs of
memory loss that affects job
performing familiar tasks
with language ó forgetting simple words or substituting
of time and place
or decreased judgment
in mood or behavior
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
people with Alzheimerís live about eight to 10 years after
symptoms appear, but life expectancy varies widely.
three most common stages of the disease are mild, moderate and
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.
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.
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
Additional information on the disease is
available at the Greater Illinois Springfield office at (217)
726-5184 or this website:
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.
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:
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.
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
In 1995, more than 120,000 people who entered drug treatment
programs reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse.
Marijuana use causes a loss of inhibitions, which can lead to
behaviors that have lifelong negative consequences.
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."
goes into all the Logan County public schools presenting programs on
life skills to seventh-graders and the truth about drugs 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.
more information about substance abuse prevention efforts in Lincoln
and Logan County, call Kristi Simpson of Logan-Mason Mental Health
at (217) 735-2272.
Mental Health news release]
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.
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.
at high risk should get the flu shot as soon as the vaccine is
available. Those at high risk include:
People 65 years of age or older.
People with serious long-term health problems.
People with immune system problems.
Women who will be in second or third trimester of pregnancy during
Children receiving long-term aspirin therapy.
Employees of nursing homes or other chronic care facilities.
Health-care workers or anyone coming in close contact with people at
risk of serious influenza.
[to top of second column in this
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.
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.
more information, contact Logan County Health Department at (217)