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February 23, 2006 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2006-02-23

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Health & Fitness

Fading Memory

Dementia, Alzheimer patients and families can find help.

Ruthan Brodsky

Special to the Jewish News

fter a day's work, Carol
Hilf returns to the
Dorothy & Peter Brown
Jewish Community Adult Day Care
Program and picks up her hus-
band, Marvin.
"Marvin had been struggling
with Parkinson's disease for 15
years when he was diagnosed with
dementia five years ago': explains
Hilf."I hadn't been in the work
force for some time but with that
diagnosis I knew I had to find a
job. I also wanted Marvin to stay
with me in our home as long as
"The Brown Center is my sani-
ty," Hilf says. "The staff is kind and
caring. Marvin is involved with
activities, socializes with others,
and participates in outings and
looks forward going to what he
calls 'school."
Gerald Goudsmit of Farmington
Hills drops Pearl, his wife of 51
years, at the Brown Center on
weekday mornings, returning for
her after his day at work at
Sunglow Restoration in Novi. Pearl
was diagnosed with
Alzheimer's eight
years ago.
"The golden years
haven't been very
golden;' Goudsmit
says. "I've taken care
of her for a long time
and will keep her
with me as long as I
can. I tried home
health care for a
while but that was too Dr. Shatz:
"Pearl is in the
final stages of Alzheimer's and, for
the past two years, she has been
attending the Brown Center. It's
the perfect answer for me — and
a huge help. They take care of her
during the day and bathe her
twice a week."


Defining The Problem
Dementia and Alzheirher's disease

both affect the elderly,
often robbing them of
memory and inde-
pendence. Dementia is
a neurological disor-
der that affects a per-
son's ability to think,
speak, reason, remem-
ber and move. While
Alzheimer's disease is
the most common
cause of dementia,
many other condi-
tions also cause these
Detroit. "There are,
Gerald and Pearl
same symptoms.
however, prescrip-
Goudsmit of
People with
Parkinson's, for exam- Farmington Hills share tive treatments that
may help delay the
a meal at Sero's in
ple, often develop
rate and severity of
Southfield. Pearl has
dementia late in the
symptoms. Early
had Alzheimer's dis-
diagnosis is very
Alzheimer's disease ease for eight years.
important because
involves a loss of
the sooner you
nerve cells in areas of
know someone has
the brain vital to
it, the sooner the treatments can
memory and other mental func-
start and some functions may be
tions. The first sign of Alzheimer's
preserved. Once the disease is full
disease is usually forgetfulness. As
blown, the possibility of bringing
the disease progresses, it affects
someone back to better -mental
language, reasoning and under-
function is very slim:'
standing. Eventually people with
"There are also different kinds
Alzheimer's lose the ability to care
for themselves. Although the exact of dementia': says Dr. Shatz, "some
of which may not include memory
cause of Alzheimer's
loss although it is the major and
disease is unknown,
early component of Alzheimer's
the risk for the dis-
ease increases with
Some of the warning signs:
• Forgetfulness
An estimated 4.5
• Language problems (finding
million Americans
the right words)
suffer from
• Impaired judgment (wearing
Alzheimer's, affecting
about 1 percent of 60 sandals in 10 inches of snow)
• Problems with abstract think-
year olds and 30 per-
ing (forgetting how to add and
cent of 85 year olds.
neurologist. Another 4.5 million
• Sudden personality changes
people are believed
and mood swings that last for
to suffer from other
some time
dementia and mild cognitive
• Lack of initiative (no interest
impairment, conditions that often
in former hobbies and family)
progresses to full-blown
Alzheimer's. About 240,000 people
Making Choices
in Michigan have some kind of
"For some time, we noticed that
dementia, according to the
my parents' behavior was strange
Michigan Dementia Coalition.
"There is no cure for dementia',' but we attributed it to my dad's
says Dr. Rona Shatz, D.O., neurolo- health issues and their age,' recalls
Lynn Sands of Huntington Woods.
gist at Henry Ford Hospital in

"When my dad became
ill and passed away, it
was obvious mother
wasn't functioning well
and she moved in with
me. We had her
assessed and the diag-
nosis was dementia.
1, She was put on medica-
lion, but it didn't work
very well. The symp-
toms are progressing
even though
she remains on medica-
tion. She now spends her week-
days at the Brown Center and I am
grateful for their care."
There are two Brown Centers:
one at the Jewish Vocational
Building on Southfield Road; the
other at the Eugene and Marcia
Applebaum Jewish Community
Campus in West Bloomfield. The
adult day care program started in
1999. Approximately 100 adults
are enrolled and about 50 attend
on any given day.
"Our goal is to serve individuals
with Alzheimer's and other kinds
of dementia at all levels," explains
director Peter Ostrow."We provide
meaningful activities for partici-
pants, including outings and spe-
cial events."
The Brown Centers also recog-
nize that caregivers for family
members with dementia face
complex health issues that are
emotionally taxing.
"We provide support to family
caregivers so they can keep their
parent or spouse home as long as
possible without paying for out-
side help or placing them in a
home': Ostrow explains."We help
families understand the disease,
their own emotional stress, their
sense of loss, and how to deal with
problem behaviors. When needed,
we bring in other resources for
families such as counseling."
The primary source for finan-
cial support for the Brown Centers
is Detroit's Jewish Fund. The
Centers recently received a grant
from the Jewish Women's
Foundation for educational work-



shops for training caregivers. Fees
for participants are collected
according to financial ability.
Many full- and part-time scholar-
ships are given to families.
Although adult day care works
for some, other families choose an
assisted living facility.
"Often having a loved one with
dementia placed in a facility is the
best solution for many families':
says Judy Sussman, LPN, and
Dementia Unit coordinator at
Regent Street Assisted Living in
West Bloomfield.
"One of the things I've learned
in working with elderly people for
the past 17 years is that dementia
residents need to feel respected,
protected, productive and good
about themselves, just as we all do.
"We have a special tinitfor
dementia residents and this year
we initiated a Montessori
approach to their daily activities
so that some may be able to do
more things for themselves. Using
this approach, we are looking for
less depression and less behavior
problems, which are common
characteristics of elderly people
with dementia."
If you have dementia-related
questions, Jewish Family Service
can help, says Perry Ohren, direc-
tor of communication for JFS sup-
port services.
"We're part of Elder Link and
help people make the correct con-
nection to answer their questions':
which often include finding
respite care, locating a caregiver
support group, obtaining financial
assistance for medical problems
and assessing an elderly person
for dementia.
Children who have a loved one
with Alzheimer's disease frequent-
ly ask such questions as "Is grand-
ma crazy?" Explain that
Alzheimer's is disease. Just as
young children get colds and
tummy aches, older adults may
get an illness that causes them to
act differently and to forget. ❑

More information: JNonline.us.

February 23 • 2006


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