Lizzy Orf gave a presentation about Alzheimer’s disease with members of the Southwest Oklahoma Community Health Improvement Organization or SWOKCHIO on Thursday as a means to begin a discussion on the barriers and needs of members of the community affected by the disease.
“Alzheimer’s is one of the most costly diseases in the nation and one that has not had the exposure that is necessary to shed light on the need for further research,” Orf of the Alzheimer’s Association said. “Right now, there is no cure, prevention, or way to slow the progress of the disease.”
It is estimated by the association that as many as 5 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s diseases and that the risk of developing the disease rises with advanced age.
As the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., the Alzheimer’s Association predicts the disease will cost the country $259 billion. The group reports that one in 10 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s dementia, nearly two-thirds of those affected are women. African-Americans are about twice as likely to develop the disease and Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to develop the disease.
“There is a great need for caregiver resources,” Orf said. “All of our resources are free, from one-on-one consulting to education programs for caregivers, first responders, and financial entities to ease the already high cost of care for patients with Alzheimer’s.”
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 15.9 million family and friends provided 18.2 billion hours of unpaid assistance to someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Of those, two-thirds were women and 34 percent are age 65 or older, 41 percent have a household income of $50,000 or less, and about one quarter are “sandwich generation” caregivers — meaning that they care for an aging parent and children under age 18.
A support group for caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease meets at 5:30 p.m. every third Thursday at the Friendship Inn at 1800 N. Main St. in Altus. The group, lead by Terry Wells, focuses on educating and supporting caregivers at every stage.
“Most patients with the disease become withdrawn and rely on family members for care who might not know what their loved one needs,” Wells said. “They become frustrated and need an outlet to discuss the problems they are facing and receive support from others who are going through the same things.”
According to Orf, the best way to work to prevent dementia is to eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and change daily routines such as taking a different route to work, wearing a watch on a different wrist or learning new things to build neuropathways.
Orf will be giving a free presentation at the Southwest Technology Center on Early Alzheimer’s detection and the 10 signs of Alzheimer’s disease:
* memory loss,
* planning or problem-solving challenges,
* difficulty completing familiar tasks,
* confusion with time or place,
* trouble with visual images and spatial relationships,
* new problems with words in speaking or writing,
* misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps,
* decreased or poor judgment,
* social withdrawal and
* changes in mood or personality.
The seminar is scheduled for 6:30-8 p.m April 4 at 711 W. Tamarack Road in Altus.
For more information, contact Orf at 580-699-2877.
Reach Katrina Goforth at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077.