Free Alzheimer's information workshops begin

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VERSAILLES - Capital Region Medical Center and the Alzheimer's Association teamed up Tuesday in its first of six workshops teaching mid-Missourians about early detection of Alzheimer's.

The first workshop took place Tuesday from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. Betty Berendzen, the community benefits coordinator for the Capital Region Medical Center, said she hopes these workshops will raise awareness for the risk of Alzheimer's.

"There's different presentations that we have if the need is there like how to make the first talk with your parents and signs to look for," Berendzen said.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's cases in Missouri will increase 14-22 percent by 2025.

Janie Bonham, the early stage consultant for the Alzheimer's Association, said, "Alzheimer's is a growing problem. There's over five million cases in the United States. What we see is there are about 110,000 cases in the state of Missouri."

For Bonham, she has a personal connection to the disease with her mother who died in 2008. 

"My mother had Alzheimer's disease. I totally went into denial. I live around the corner from the Alzheimer's Association, drove by it every day and never stopped until the day after her funeral," Bonham said. "That's probably what has given me the passion that I have because if only I would have stopped and connected with the Alzheimer's Association, if only I would have gotten some information, I could have maybe made my momma's life a little easier."

The Alzheimer's Association lists age, family history, diet, alcohol and tobacco use and others as potential risk factors for the disease. 

"I think the overwhelming part is the baby boomers are turning 65, and they turn 65 at a rate of 10,000 a day for the next 17 years," Bonham said. "Statistics show one in nine people at 65 years of age have it. By the time one reaches 85, it's one in two."

However, Bonham said Alzheimer's has a misconception of being an "old person's disease." She said age plays a large role, but she has worked with five people who started the disease under age 50.

Bonham said the big issue is the spread of the disease through the brain after being diagnosed. The brains of individuals with Alzheimer's have large amounts of plaques and tangles, which are deposits of protein. These entanglements begin in areas of the brain involved with memory and spread throughout the brain over time.

"It's kind of like getting on a roller coaster. Once you get on the roller coaster, you are on the ride until the ride ends," Bonham said.

Berendzen said not enough people known enough about the disease or what to do.

"We know the people in these counties, as well as everywhere, need education on what to watch for with Alzheimer's, what doctor to go to, what questions to ask the doctor when you get there," Berendzen said. "There's some tough things with Alzheimer's like having to take the keys and the driving issue." 

Bonham and Berendzen said early detection is important to address Alzheimer's in its early stages. Bonham lists 10 warning signs for the disease.

1. Memory changes that disrupt daily life

2. Challenges in planning or solving problems

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks

4. Confusion with time or place

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

6. New problems with words in speaking or writing

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

8. Decreased or poor judgement

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities

10. Changes in mood or personality

Five more Alzheimer's workshops are planned, and Berendzen said she hopes more will continue in the future.

September 8, 6-8 p.m.
Central Bank Community Room
611 E. North, Eldon, MO

September 14, 1-3 p.m.
Osage County Community Center
1811 Hwy 50 E., Linn, MO

September 14, 6-8 p.m.
City Hall Public Meeting Room
500 S. Oak St., California, MO

September 15, 1-3 p.m.
Union Hill Baptist Church
460 S. Summit Dr., Holts Summit, MO

September 29, 6-8 p.m.
First State Community Bank
308 W. Lincoln, Owensville, MO

A help line for the Alzheimer's Association is 1-800-272-3900 at all hours.