One out of nine Americans age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s Disease and one out of three of us age 85 will get the disease. It is a disease that affects almost every family in this country. Most or all of us have a family member or a friend affected by the devastation of someone losing their memory, their ability to reason, their judgment, their ability to care for their own needs or by the helplessness of watching a loved one succumb to these losses.
There are things that can be done to slow the effects of the disease process. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. But there are things that can be done to help the person with the diagnosis and his/her family prepare for the future. There are services and supports out there to help the person with the disease and/or his/her family make it through the tough times ahead with a little more dignity and a little less anguish.
Not all dementia is caused by Alzheimer’s Disease. While 50-80% of people with dementia have Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia can also be caused by diabetes, some medications, or a stroke, for example.
What’s First? The very first thing one should do is get a good medical diagnosis. Fear and the denial it can cause often keeps people from seeking a medical diagnosis. That can also be true with any suspected serious illness such as cancer or heart disease. We ignore the situation for as long as we can. But diagnosis is so important. If the dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease there are medications that can slow things down. If the dementia is not Alzheimer’s Disease, then a proper diagnosis can lead to proper treatment for whatever is causing the problems. You can’t get help with the problem until you admit there’s a problem and find out what is really the matter.
What’s Next? When a person has dementia, there are not only medical issues, but personal, legal, financial, and safety considerations. Through Memory Connection our staff can provide information about and referral to community services and supports for Champaign County residents and their families who are dealing with memory loss or dementia. Whether you need information or assistance, the Memory Connection consultant can help.
Areas for Consideration:
- Community programs for people with early memory loss
- Powers of attorney
- Health care directives
- Financial benefits and planning
- Long-term care options planning
- Home safety
- Home care
- Adult day care and activity groups
- Personal and caregiver support groups
- Spiritual support
Diagnostic and Treatment Services
Diagnostic and treatment services for memory loss are provided by a variety of health practitioners (geriatrics, neurology, family practice, internal medicine) throughout the state. Illinois also has three designated State Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Centers, with one clinic being located at Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine in Springfield. The two additional clinics are located in Chicago, one at Rush-Presbyterian Hospital and Clinics and one at Northwestern University. All three of these clinics offer standardized clinical assessment and diagnostic services, management services, opportunities to participate in research, and educational programs for persons with memory loss and their family members. Contact information for the SIU Memory and Aging Clinic is found below:
Memory & Aging Clinic
SIU School of Medicine Clinics Building
751 N. Rutledge, Room 3100
Springfield, IL 62702
Clinic-Appointment Desk: 217.545.8417
Center for Alzheimer’s Disease & Related Disorders (CADRD) Administrative Office
Center for Alzheimer’s Disease & Related Disorders
Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
P.O. Box 19643
Springfield, IL 62794-9643
Administrative Office: 217.545.7197
Memory and Aging Clinic
Faculty consists of a team of neurologists, nurse practitioners, and a neuropsychologist and includes:
Tom Ala, MD, Associate Professor, Interim Director
Rodger Elble, MD, PhD, Professor
Carolyn Hahn-Swanson, MN, MPH, APRN-BC, NP-C
Charlene Young, RN, MSN, FNP-BC, CNP
Ronald F. Zec, PhD, Assoc Prof, Neuropsychologist
Consistent with Illinois Public Act 90-0404, the SIU CADRD sponsors a Memory & Aging Network to extend our reach to 35 sites in predominantly rural Illinois. Two Memory & Aging Network sites are located in the Champaign-Urbana area, one based at the Center for Healthy Aging at First United Methodist Church (Sandy Burgener, Ph.D., R.N., Primary Provider; 217.898.4251) and a second site at Circle of Friends, 609 West Washington – Champaign, IL 61820. Phone (217) 359-7937. Fax (217) 359-3884. These outreach sites allow for screening exams to be conducted in the local area.