Friday, November 13, 2015

Alzheimer's Disease Awareness: My Story

Several years ago, a beloved member of my own family became afflicted with Alzheimer's. I was living with my grandmother and doing things with her every day. Things like, shopping, cooking, laundry, clipping coupons, and weeding the garden. I never noticed anything was wrong until one day when I brought home some charcoal broiled chicken from the poultry market for dinner. I left the chicken on the kitchen table and told my grandmother that I would round up the other family members to eat. When I returned with my aunts, I saw my grandmother standing at the kitchen sink scrubbing something. I went over to see what she was doing and discovered all of the chicken soaking in soapy dish water. She looked at me and said, “Shari doll, this chicken you bought was so dirty. I’ve been scrubbing it to get the black off.” My aunt and I began laughing but also realized that there was something wrong. This was our first outstanding sign of her disease. There were probably other signs, but being with her every single day, I couldn’t see it.  

Alzheimer's is a disease that attacks the brain and is not a part of normal aging. It is a debilitating decomposition of the brain which affects not only those who are diagnosed, but all of the people around them; friends and family alike. It is a painful life experience to witness the loss of memories of loved ones who are in decline. 

For those who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, there are many resources available to increase your comfort and allow you to remain active. Here in Tucson and Marana, AZ, MHC Healthcare has many sources and services that can  help you cope and find inspiration.  If you feel that you need to be examined for signs of the disease, please call MHC Healthcare to see one of our primary care providers at 520.682.4111. 

A Few Facts About Alzheimer’s

What do you mean by “early stage”?
Regardless of age, those who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease are usually at the beginning stages of the disease. Persons in the early stages will experience some forgetfulness, mild problems with language, and problems making decisions, but are generally able to function during in their daily activities.

What is not “early stage”?
People beyond early stage Alzheimer’s (middle stage) will not remember having a diagnosis of memory loss and will have problems communicating. At this point, they will need a caregiver for dressing, bathing, meal preparation and transportation. 

Is there a cost?
The Alzheimer’s Association Early Stage Programs and Services are free of charge. Please call 1.800.272.3900 for more information or to register for any of their programs or services. For more information go to
     For local Arizona residents, MHC Healthcare can get you started with one of our primary care providers who can diagnose, refer and provide you with the resources that you will need. 

What happens when I can no longer participate in Early Stage Programs?
When you reach the period of transition, from early stage to middle stage Alzheimer’s, care consulting services are available for future planning, including caregivers, support groups, educational classes and a 24/7 helpline.

Helpful Alzheimer’s Educational Programs

These programs will help you understand changes and challenges to be expected with early Understanding and Responding to Dementia-Related Behavior.

Written by Sharon Kether, a valued MHC Healthcare Volunteer