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Shining light on Alzheimer's

Daily Independent - 1/28/2020

Jan. 28--The Lantern at Morning Pointe is an Alzheimer's Center of Excellence for Memory Care.

"We specialize in providing more options for our seniors who have Alzheimer's and other related dementia," Executive Director Cheryl Stephens said. Stephens explained that there are many different types of dementia, but Alzheimer's is the most common. But even though Alzheimer's is the most common, early onset signs can often go unnoticed.

"One of the early signs is forgetfulness," Stephens said. "This is more than just the occasional forgetfulness such as an individual not remembering where they put their keys."

That type of forgetfulness is common, and most people experience this type from time to time.

"Other signs could be difficulty concentrating," Stephens said. Or one early sign could be an individual not being able to find their way back home after a trip to the store or something of that nature. "Maybe they are used to traveling and being out on their own, but suddenly they have to call a family member to come get them."

Tied in with this could be an individual not knowing where they are when in a normally familiar place, trouble concentrating or thinking.

"It could be to the point where they can't remember whether or not they have taken their medication that day," Stephens said. "And the family notices they have doubled up on their medication, or not taken it at all."

Given that many of the medicines need to be in an individual's system in the proper levels to be effective, missing or double doses can prove quite dangerous.

Alzheimer's and other dementia has an all-pervasive effect on the individual, and there is no known cure.

"It has a serious effect on their memory," Stephens said, and, in turn, their ability to make decisions. And as the disease progresses, they may not remember they are hungry, so they will have a loss of appetite. "Or they may become isolated," Stephens said, "And only want to be by themselves."

Stephens pointed out that a side effect of the disease is that the individual may try to compensate for having the disease.

"When they are trying to compensate, you might ask them something like 'Who is the President?'" she said. "And they might reply with 'Oh, you know who it is,' rather than admit to you they don't know."

The disease produces frustration, and this is caused by the brain's signals being disrupted from their normal pathways by a build-up of protein known as plaques, and not being able to get through properly.

"They might know exactly what they want to say, but it just won't come out," Stephens said. "A good way to describe the plaques is like a roadblock in the road stopping traffic. At times certain signals might get through, and at other times they don't."

The Lantern at Morning Pointe has residents at all stages of the disease, Stephens said. "Some days a resident might actually be able to speak in complete sentences, and other days their words come out garbled.

"The disease starts out slow, and there is typically a gradual decline," Stephens added. "What we do here at The Lantern at Morning Pointe is treat everyone with compassion and dignity, and give them the best possible care available. We allow them to age in place with our meaningful day program."

With Alzheimer's, routine is very important, Stephens said.

"Having a structured day is very helpful," she said. "So with our Meaningful Day Program, this incorporates our unique approach which focuses on each person's interests and their capabilities."

Stephens said it also incorporates the individual's life experiences in the form of what have they done and what would they like to do.

A possible example of the program, Stephens said, would be to take into consideration the person's former job.

"Say, for instance, an individual had been a plumber and now he is getting frustrated, we might incorporate working with pipes," she said.

The Lantern is an innovative facility located in Russell. For more information, contact The Lantern at (606) 833-1120.

(606) 326-2655 -- cromans@dailyindependent.com

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