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Understanding dementia

By Caroline Clauss-Ehlers

Defining Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia in the elderly. Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease begin slowly and can start with something as subtle as occasional forgetfulness. Alzheimer's gets worse over time. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, people in the middle stage of the disease may forget to do simple tasks like maintaining personal hygiene, and have difficulty speaking, reading, and writing. At later stages, people may not remember who their loved ones are and wander away from home.

Family Impact

Alzheimer's can have an impact on caretakers. Angelica, whose name has been changed to protect confidentiality, said: "My mother-in-law came to stay with us and it was really tough on the family. Her memory loss was really bad. She used to forget to turn off the stove gas burners which was really dangerous. She needed constant supervision."

Families can seek early intervention and planning for their loved one, however, many Latinos do not know that services exist. Said Mr. Edwin Méndez-Santiago, Commissioner for the New York City Department for the Aging, "The New York City Latino Alzheimer's Association is one group that is educating the Hispanic community about what dementia is. Many Latinos aren't aware of services. We are working to get seniors to the services that they need. One way we are doing this is to have a professional navigator get people through the system through the 311 number."

The 20th Annual Mayoral Conference on Alzheimer's Disease will be held on Tuesday November 23, 2004 from 7:30am to 3:30 pm at The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 665 West 34th Street, New York, New York.

This column is educational. It does not substitute for formal medical advice. Do not use this information without talking with a qualified professional.

Send your questions to Nueva Edad/Hoy, 330 West 34St., 17th Floor, New York, NY 10001
Or call at (212) 462-9464
Or write to

Copyright 2004, Used with permission from Hoy.

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