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May 25, 2006 - Image 23

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2006-05-25

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Health & Fitness

Fading Memory

Dementia, Alzheimer's 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
husband, 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 possible. .
"The Brown Center is my san-
ity," Hilf says. "The staff is kind
and caring. Marvin is involved
with activities, socializes with
others, and participates in out-
ings 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 $unglow 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
"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 dur-
ing the day and bathe her twice
a week."

Defining The Problem

Dementia and Alzheimer's
disease both affect the elderly,
often robbing them of memory

Early diagnosis is very important
and independence. Dementia
because the sooner you know
is a neurological disorder that
affects a person's ability to think, someone has it, the sooner the . •
treatments can start and some
speak, reason, remember and
functions may be preserved.
move. While Alzheimer'g disease
Once the disease is full blown,
is the most common cause of
dementia, many other conditions the possibility of bringing some-
also cause these same symptoms. one back to better mental func-
Gerald and Pearl Goudsmit of Farmington Hills share a meal at
tion is very slim." _
People with Parkinson's, for
Serois in Southfield.- Pearl has had Alzheimer's disease for eight
Unfortunately, families aren't
example, often develop dementia
always aware of early symptoms
late in the disease.
financial support for the Brown
was dementia. She was put on
or won't admit that the behavior
Alzheimer's disease involves
Centers is the Jewish Fund.
of a loved one isn't quite normal. medication, but it didn't work
a loss of nerve cells in areas of
The Centers recently received a
"There are also different kinds very well. The symptoms are
the brain vital to memory and
progressing quickly even though grant from the Jewish Women's
of dementia;' says Dr. Shatz, _
other mental functions. The
Foundation for educational
she remains on medication. She
"some of which may not include
first sign of Alzheimer's disease
workshops for training caregiv-
now spends her weekdays at the
memory loss although it is the
is usually forgetfulness. As the
ers. Fees for participants are also
Brown Center and I am grateful
Major and early component of
disease progresses, it affects
collected according to financial
for their care!'
Alzheimer's disease!'
language, reasoning and under-
•ability. Many full- and part-time
There are two Brown Centers:
Some of the warning signs:
standing. Eventually people with
scholarships are given to fami-
one at the Jewish Vocational
• Forgetfulness
Alzheimer's lose the ability to
Building on Southfield Road; the lies.
care for themselves. Although the • Language problems (finding
Although adult day care works
other at the Jewish Community
the right words)
exact cause of Alzheimer's dis-
for some, other families choose
Campus in West Bloomfield. The
• Impaired judgment (wearing
ease is unknown, the risk for the
an assisted living facility.
adult day care program started
sandals in 10 inches of snow)
disease increases with age.
'Often having a loved one with
in 1999. Approximately 100
• Problems with abstract think-
An estimated 4.5 mil-
dementia placed in a facility is
adults are enrolled and about 50
ing (forgetting how to add and
lion Americans suffer from
the best solution for many fami-
attend.on any given day.
Alzheimer's, affecting about 1
lies;' says Judy Sussman, LPN,
"Our goal is to serve individu-
• Sudden personality changes
percent of 60 year olds and 30
and Dementia Unit coordinator
and mood swings that last for
percent of 85 year olds. Another
at Regent Street Assisted Living
some time
4-.5 million people are believed
in West Bloomfield. "One of the
• Lack of initiative (no interest in
to suffer from other dementia
things I've learned in work-
and mild cognitive impairment,
ing with elderly people for the
conditions that often progress
past 17 years is that dementia
to full-blown Alzheimer's: About
residents need to feel respected,
The Brown Centers also rec 7
240,000 people in Michigan have "For some time we noticed
protected, productive and good
ognize that caregivers for family
that my parents' behavior was
some kind of dementia, accord-
about themselves, just as we all
members with dementia face
strange but we attributed it to
ing to the Michigan Dementia
complex. health issues that are
my dad's health issues and their
"We have a special unit for
emotionally taxing.
age:' recalls
"There is no
dementia residents and this
"We provide support to family
Lynn Sands
cure for demen-
caregivers so they can keep their year we initiated a Montessori
of Huntington
tia:' says Dr.
approach to their daily activi-
Woods. "When parent or spouse home as long
Rhonna Shatz,
ties so that some may be able to
as possible without paying for
my dad
D.O., neurolo-
do more things for themselves
became ill and outside help or placing them in
gist at Henry .
such as putting on a jacket or
a home Ostrow explains. "We
passed away,
Ford Hospital in
help families understand the dis- brushing their teeth. Using this.
it was obvious
Detroit. "There
approach, we are looking for less
ease, their own emotional stress,
mother wasn't
are, however,
depression and less behavior
their sense of loss, and how to
problems, which are common
deal with problem behaviors.
well and she
characteristics of elderly people
When needed, we bring in other
moved in with
that may help
with dementia."
me. We had her resources for families such as
delay the rate
assessed and
and severity
Fading Memory on page 25
The primary source for
of symptoms.
Dr. Shatz: Early diagnosis is key.


May 25 • 2006


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