Early diagnosis of Alzheimer's empowers peopleBy Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/early-diagnosis-of-alzheimers/MY01219
- With Mayo Clinic health education outreach coordinator
Angela Lunderead biographyclose window
Angela LundeAngela LundeAngela Lunde is a dementia education specialist in the education core of Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at the Abigail Van Buren Alzheimer's Disease Research Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
The transfer of information about dementias, as well as understanding the need for participation in clinical trials, is an essential component of the education core.
Angela is a member of the Alzheimer's Association board of directors and co-chair of the annual Minnesota Dementia Conference. She is a member of the Dementia Behavior Assessment and Response Team (D-BART), a multidisciplinary outreach service assisting professional and family caregivers in understanding and managing difficult behaviors often present in dementia. She facilitates several support groups, including Memory Club, an early-stage education and support series, and more recently, helped to develop and now deliver Healthy Action to Benefit Independence and Thinking (HABIT), a 10-day cognitive rehab and wellness program for people with mild cognitive impairment.
Angela takes a personal interest in understanding the complex changes that take place within relationships and among families when dementia is present. She is particularly interested in providing innovative and accessible ways for people with dementia and their families to receive information and participate in valuable programs that promote well-being.
"Amid a devastating disease, there are tools, therapies, programs and ways to cope, and it is vital that families are connected to these resources," she says.
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March 4, 2010
Early diagnosis of Alzheimer's empowers people
By Angela Lunde
Thanks to all of you for your candid comments about the importance of early diagnosis and the need for more supportive services after a diagnosis.
I just completed delivering another session of a program called HABIT (Healthy Action to Benefit Independence and Thinking). Persons in this program have a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment or early stage Alzheimer's disease. Many of these participants talked about the challenge of having their memory concerns validated and receiving a clear diagnosis. Fortunately, these folks were able to get a diagnosis early and are pro-actively taking steps to compensate for their impairment and possibly slow down decline.
I feel strongly that persons are empowered when they receive an early diagnosis. They begin to understand that the changes and challenges are likely part of a disease process — not a lack of effort, motivation, or sign of weakness. An early diagnosis offers the patient and their family time to arm themselves with knowledge and take full advantage of existing strengths. And early diagnosis allows for psychiatric symptoms such as depression to be identified and treated. I don't want to imply that an early diagnosis provides individuals and families with rose colored glasses (nobody wishes for the diagnosis and the journey will not be easy), but instead it does help them with an understanding and a plan for whatever the future will bring.
If you're concerned about memory changes in yourself or a loved one, the Alzheimer's Association has a document that can be helpful to complete and take to your doctor. You can find the checklist on the Resources tab above, and a link to the Mayo Clinic memory training program.blog index