‘The Dementia Umbrella’

By Shelby Stewart
Staff Writer
At 6:30 p.m., April 16 the Brandon Township Public Library will be hosting Carol Waarala, who will be giving her talk on ‘The Dementia Umbrella.’
“Dementia is an umbrella term,” said Waarala, a retired hospice social worker. “It’s not a disease itself, it’s an umbrella term for a disease that causes changes and damages to the brain.”
Waarala explains that the challenge for doctors is determining the type of dementia, such as Alzheimer or Parkinson’s.
“There are about 100 reasons that people have dementia symptoms,” she said. “Memory confusion, forgetfulness, communication becomes challenging, it may affect the part of the brain that does language, so there’s all these symptoms. It then becomes a process of elimination of what you have. A doctor may say you have probable Alzheimer, possible Alzheimer, and sometime you’re misdiagnosed, and the doctor will change it.”
She also says that there are over five million people with Alzheimer, and it accounts for 75 percent of dementia diseases.
“It’s a disease that we see hitting people that are 65 or older,” she said. “It’s a disease that comes with aging, that’s the number one risk. Our risk increases as we age.”
She states the reason that more people are diagnosed with Alzheimer is because people are living longer, whereas 100 years ago, people were living to their 50s, today people are living to their 80s and older. People weren’t old enough for symptoms to start.
“We see it more frequently,” she said. “The next highest risk is if you’re a woman, so those are two things that we have no control over.
But we don’t know hwy we get it, and we don’t know how to stop it and it’s growing.”
Waarala says all of this is important to learn because no one know who may be diagnosed with a dementia-type disease.
“You may have a risk for yourself, you may have someone in your family,” she said. “And my hope is to help people understand what’s going on, to understand it’s not their loved ones intention to cause problems or have behaviors that are difficult.”
To register for ‘The Dementia Umbrella’ at the library, visit brandonlibrary.org or call (248) 627-1460.
“People need to know if they’re going to be providing care,” she said. “Education is the most important thing.”

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