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At the Jewish Community Center, the Rochester and Finger Lakes chapter of the Alzheimer's Association sponsored the fifth annual conference designed to help those in the early stages of the disease to make sense of living with their diagnosis.
Mary Anne and Bill Kramp of Naples gave the welcoming address. Mary Anne was diagnosed with Alzheimer's last year.
"I used to be able to do a lot of things that now I find more difficult; just knowing where things are, staying organized, I used to be a very organized person, and that frustrates me to not be able to turn around and know where something is,” she said.
The Kramps have been married 51 years. Bill serves as his wife's caregiver.
Mary Anne says things have become more difficult for her over the past year. Bill says his greatest fear is what the future holds for his wife.
"How she'll be, how to care for her to some degree whether you'll be able to do it at home or will she have to be in a continued care center,” Bill said. “Alzheimer's is such a strange disease. It doesn't affect people all the same, so you don't know."
Care givers like Bill say there are times where they become quite frustrated and need a break. There are services available that will allow them to do that.
One such organization is Home Helpers. It supplies in home companions that help with things such as household chores and meal preparation that take the load off the primary care partner.
"Usually by the time people are seeking help, they really should have sought help much, much earlier in the stages. They wait until they're at their breaking point and they need a break so desperately. That's what we're here to help with and the Alzheimer's Association has so many resources for people,” said Debra Kostiw, Home Helpers.
Many believe Alzheimer's only affects the elderly. Medical experts say young people are also diagnosed with the disease. They recommend anyone experiencing regular memory loss to see their doctor.
"We're diagnosing Alzheimer's and other dementia much earlier than before,” said Dr. Carol Podgorski of the University of Rochester Medical Center. “The benefits of that are that people can take advantage of some of the medications that are geared to work while a lot of the parts of the memory are still able to be affected by the medications and I think that's really important."
Podgorski says it's important for patients to get on a medication regiment and make plans for their care. She adds that early diagnosis doesn't mean people have to change life as they know it. Doing the things that they normally do can be helpful.