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Understanding Alzheimer's Disease topic of luncheon

By Keldy Ortiz
March 26, 2013 at 8:01 p.m.
Updated March 26, 2013 at 10:27 p.m.

126 people attended Tuesday's luncheon at First United Methodist Church.

A few tips to know if someone has Alzheimer's

• Shorter attention span

•  Asking repetitive questions

•  Resist changes

• Difficulty with learning something new

Source: Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute on Aging

Joyce Ritchey was jotting notes during a presentation given on Alzheimer's Disease on Tuesday afternoon at First United Methodist Church. She wished, however, she would have understood the disease before helping her own family.

"I did a lot of things wrong with my mother-in-law when she had Alzheimer's. I tried to reason" with her, said Ritchey, 78. "It would have been a lot more pleasant caring for her if I had learned to just go along with what she's thinking."

Ritchey was among 126 people who attended Tuesday's luncheon to learn about Alzheimer's Disease and common misconceptions affiliated with the disease. Common mistakes people affiliate Alzheimer's with are people forgetting where things are and losing a sense of direction, said Ginny Funk, an associate director of programs and advocacy at the Alzheimer's Association in San Antonio.

Another misconception explained was that patients can just visit a regular doctor about Alzheimer's, when they should visit a doctor who specializes in the care of Alzheimer's patients to see if they have other types of brain diseases common with Alzheimer's.

The program was sponsored by the Crossroads Senior Options, an organization providing health care services in the community.

"In the early stages, a person who has Alzheimer's doesn't know they have," said Funk. "(Alzheimer's is) not a normal part of aging. It's a brain disease."

In Texas, 340,000 people live with Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Association. By 2020, 400,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with the disease.

Carolyn Bullock, 82, attended the event because she thought her forgetfulness was due to Alzheimer's. She wanted to learn about the early stages of Alzheimer's. Her grandchildren worry when she makes trips to Dallas from Victoria.

"They just said they would never do it. If I want to see my loved ones, I'm going to drive," said Bullock. "A lot of the aging process is not necessarily part of the disease. I think we could all be faced with this situation."

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