Almost any adult has had moments in their lives when they can’t remember where they left their car keys, some cordless house phones have ringers on the base unit that beeps the missing handset so you can find it buried in the sofa cushions, some of us enter a room, temporarily forgetting why we’re there. It’s a common phenomenon. It’s when you can’t remember where you’ve left the car, or can’t recall the name of your spouse, and do that often, that you start to realize there’s a far larger problem developing.
The Remember Foundation in Lamar has recently begun organizational activities, dedicated to become a support group for those individuals stricken with Alzheimer’s and dementia and their families. The Foundation’s mission statement includes, “to support on every level, Alzheimer’s/Dementia patients with screening, early diagnosis, dietary and drug therapy, education and research by making these resources available on a local basis to patients and their families.”
Dr. John Abbott from High Plains Community Health Center, other medically trainer personnel and private citizens have come together to form The Remember Foundation. In its initial stages, the group is currently seeking a non-profit designation with the IRS before they can begin seeking funding to support their operations. Abbott said this will be a collaborative effort between the Clinic and members of Prowers Medical Group. Holly Burton, also employed at High Plains, is a member of the Foundation and discussed how some of those afflicted with dementia are able to cover up their problems, sometimes passing off routine tasks to others with the excuse that, “You do that so much better than I do.” After a while, she said, there are no more excuses left and a family has to come to terms with a members decreased capacity to remember and to function in general.
Abbott said there are various medical categories for the development, but Alzheimer’s accounts for about 70% to 80% of all diagnosed dementia cases. “It doesn’t just affect one individual, but as a wife discusses her ill husband’s needs, you can see that she is also suffering,” he said. He added, “These situations can drain a family’s emotional and physical resources, and we want the Foundation to be equipped to provide assistance.” Burton said some future funds can be earmarked for transportation to medical treatments, as well as help pay for in-home convenience and safety products for working around stoves or cabinets.
“I’d like to have a local Alzheimer’s testing kiosk set up at a Wal-Mart for a three minute test,” Abbott remarked. He said computerized testing plays a role in checking short term memory ability, but at the same time, can be used as a treatment tool for patients. “You can play games, read, work with visual and hand coordination, check reaction times, do memory and crossword puzzles too,” he explained. Once you have an early diagnosis, you can also start early therapy. Dr. Abbott remarked that given the population numbers for the Baby Boomer generation, we’re going to see more of a need for treatment over the next two decades. He said there has been recent growth in geriatric psychiatric hospitals as those with dementia sometimes display two different personalities. “There are cases where the patient develops a rosy, ‘all is well’ personality and the alternative where the person becomes paranoid, vindictive or mistrustful of anyone, even family members,” he explained.
Burton and Abbott said their current Foundation board meetings are not set up for the general public. “We’re just getting started, but we want to be friendly to anyone who would like to get involved in the future. It will take a while before we’re ready for a more public aspect,” he said. Abbott said his rock band, and a second band is planning a July 3 benefit concert at Country Acres Park and RV south of town. He said by then The Remember Foundation will have had time to become more organized, at which point the public can become more involved.
(Pictured L to R at Table) Elwood Gillis, Francine Stagner, Dr. John Abbott, Dr. Margaret Loewen, Sherri Walls, Lisa Thomas, Shawna Smith, Holly Burton, Mary Shy FNP and John Cochran-PMG Speech Therapist)
By Russ Baldwin
Filed under: City, community, County, Education, Featured, Granada, Health, Holly, Lamar, News, Public Safety, Wiley · Tags: Alzheimers Disease, Dementia, High Plains Community Health Center, Prowers Medical Center, The Remember Foundation