Dementia, Notes to Remember

By Lesia Henderson - Sampson County Department of Aging
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You may ask, “What is normal aging”?

I found myself asking the same question! I just turned 59 years old. I do not mind telling my age, but I refuse to share how much I weigh! I have noticed a change in my life as a result of aging. I think it started when I turned 40, some 19 years ago. I am so forgetful, I just know it’s because I have so many things on my mind. Working part-time, active in my church, being very involved with my grandchildren and of course dealing with my husband’s retirement.

Really when I think about it, that is not that much. Just a few years ago I could handle all that and worked a full time job. My husband has only been retired two years, so that really is not what is causing me to not handle things as good as I use to. I tire easily and have put on weight that is stubborn and does not want to go. I have also found myself having trouble recalling people’s names. My mother would do this thing when she would attempt to call my name, she would say each of my siblings names before she said my name.

Oh my goodness, I am doing the exact same thing! And yes it happens to us all, when we can’t find that word that is so simple but it just will not come to us when we want to say it and we refer to it as “that whatcha ya ma call it” or “that thing a ma bog” or “that thing a ma gig”. Knowing the word you want, but hesitating, and eventually you find the word. It is certain, things change when we get older, but all the things I shared previously are absolutely normal aging. We all experience different things in different ways when we age. But aging does not mean dementia! So many people think all senior adults will have dementia and that is not true.

Dementia is not normal aging. A person living with dementia has problems in multiple areas of brain function. These problems can include; memory, language, impulse control, ability to do things for self, personality and understanding of time. According to Alzheimer’s North Carolina dementia is a non-specific term used to describe a person having changes in brain function that interfere with ability to function and do everyday activities.

Early diagnosis is important and accurate diagnosis is critical! Alzheimer’s North Carolina suggest the gathering of lots of information to get an accurate diagnosis. Diagnosis is complicated, the following list may be helpful and is provided by Alzheimer’s North Carolina: History of the changes, Health history, Medication review, Physical exam (especially focusing on neurological and cardiovascular systems), laboratory studies, Imaging study of the brain (MRI, CT, and PET), Cognitive assessment (what’s working well and what’s not working well), Emotional assessment, and other test (ECG, EEG). Alzheimer’s North Carolina is a great resource and you can reach them at 919-832-3732 or 800-228-8738 or WWW.alznc.org. Alzheimer’s North Carolina for over 30 years has been providing education, support and resources for caregivers, individuals with dementia and their families, health care professionals and the general public while raising awareness and funding for research, prevention and a cure for Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Please mark your calendar for Tuesday, May 8 at 2 p.m. here at the Sampson County Department of Aging for our Dementia Education and Alzheimer’s Support Group meeting. We will have a representative from Project CARE. She will give resources that will help with your respite needs. Next week I will share the “Ten Absolutes of Caregiving” so stay in touch! Please mark your calendar for Wednesday May 30th, 10:30am at the Bellamy Center, Alzheimer’s North Carolina will have a representative to do some “Laughter Therapy”. Laughter is good medicine! So come laugh with me! Hope you have a “Best Day Ever”.

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Dementia is not normal aging.

By Lesia Henderson

Sampson County Department of Aging