Bringing Alzheimer’s into the light

Bringing Alzheimer’s into the light

Alzheimer’s Association acts locally this month to bring awareness to the disease and to raise funds to combat it

By Brett Auten

The month of June is designated as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, but for those who have loved ones afflicted with the disease, it is at the forefront every single day.

St. Charles’ Beth Lucero has been the caregiver for her mother, Marilyn since she was diagnosed and over the course of the years, their relationship has taken a different shape.

“She doesn’t know my name, she doesn’t know I’m her daughter, she just calls me ‘honey,’” Lucero said. “My mother used to be very social – she was active in local politics and was a business owner in the town where she used to live – and now she’s not that same person.”

The toll financially is starting to increase as Marilyn, who can no longer walk or feed herself, will soon need to move into a skilled-nursing facility.

“It is so expensive having care,” Lucero said. “My mother has run out of money, and we think we are going to have to apply for Medicaid.”

Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and every 65 seconds, someone is diagnosed with the disease. Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death among the top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed down. Currently, 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and by 2050, the number is projected to rise to nearly 14 million. The Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Missouri is putting on two events taking place in the St. Charles area on June 21.

One of the activities going on will be a community education program titled “Understanding Alzheimer’s” that will be held at the Spencer Road Library, located at 427 Spencer Road in St Peters. 

“It is about raising awareness,” Elyse Murrell, Education and Outreach Manager at the Alzheimer’s Association, said. “The program will give people the opportunity to speak with experts and to those who have a different perspective and some fresh voices.”

The event is free and open to the general public. It is sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association, BJC Healthcare and the St. Charles City/County Library District. It will run from 6 – 8 p.m. and will feature Dr. Beau Ances among other guest speakers and presenters. Also, clips from the PBS documentary “Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts” will be viewed and a panel discussion on an array of topics is also scheduled.

“From friends, family, your faith community, you name it, so many are affected,” Murrell said. “We want everyone to be aware of this information.” 

The program is free, but registration is requested by either calling 636-928-9355 or visiting www.BJCStCharlesCounty.org

Second, the Lake Forest Pickleball Club is hosting a pickleball marathon all day at the Lake Forest Country Club, located at 300 Yard Dr., in Lake St Louis. There will be six courts filled with action over a 14-hour timetable beginning at 7 a.m. and ending at 9 p.m. Pickleball to #ENDALZ is part of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Longest Day awareness and fundraising initiative. Members of the general public are invited to participate.

Pickleball is a racket sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. You can register at act.alz.org/goto/pickleball by donating a minimum of $10 per hour, per person. For more information, contact Des Hilton at x-town@charter.net.

As for Lucero – who is involved directly with the St. Charles Walk to End Alzheimer’s and also works for Visiting Angels, a locally-owned agency that provides home care to seniors – she has learned to adjust and that bending the facts when it comes to a conversation is sometimes better than the truth.

“When communicating with someone who has dementia, often it’s best to meet them in their reality instead of correcting them all the time,” she said. “’Don’t you remember?’ is not best words to use when they are having a hard time. Instead, you will probably be better off telling a little, white lie. I know it doesn’t feel right but it will help them calm down, and they are just going to end up asking you that question again.”

For more information, visit alz.org.

PULLBOX

10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life

2. Challenges in planning or solving problems

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure

4. Confusion with time or place

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

6. New problems with words in speaking or writing

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

8. Decreased or poor judgment

9. Withdrawal from work or social Activities

10.Changes in mood and personality

-Provided by www.alz.org

CUTLINE: Photos courtesy Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Missouri Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and every 65 seconds, someone is diagnosed with the disease.