The Dexter District Library is hosting a unique series aiming to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The series, which has five parts with the last part featuring a talk on creating a Dementia-Friendly Community, is taking place at the library in the coming weeks and months. The library is located at 3255 Alpine Street in Dexter.
Series presenter Jim Mangi said the Dementia Awareness series at the Dexter Library is a follow-on from a similar series in Saline held from May through July titled, “In This Together” and offered by Saline’s Holy Faith Church and supported by EHM Senior Solutions.
The program in Dexter will kick off at 7 p.m. on Sept. 11, with Mangi’s talk, “Alzheimer’s: A Disease Not A Disgrace.”
“This talk is intended to help people and families learn about the disease, how to recognize it, acquire care giving skills, and get help,” Mangi said.
He said he does the talk within the narrative of his, “11-year long – so far – Unwelcome Journey, caring for my wife after she developed Younger Onset Alzheimer’s at age 58.”
“I’ll talk about swimming in the Egyptian River – Denial, then belatedly learning all I had to do to safely take good care of my sweetheart,” he said. “I’ll describe the mistakes I made, like always telling my wife the truth and over the years growing ever closer in my love for Kathleen even as she has forgotten who I am. I’ll share what I have learned about what to expect and how to manage. Past audiences for this talk, such as church and civic groups, have gotten factual information, a few laughs, some tears, but mostly a better understanding of living with dementia.”
Mangi said Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain that causes loss of memory and other mental function, that is, dementia. There are many other diseases, and disorders that can also cause dementia, but he said Alzheimer’s is by far the most common—about 75 percent of all dementias are caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
Another disease that can cause dementia is Parkinson’s, although not all people with Parkinson’s develop dementia. There’s also a disease called Lewy Body Dementia, and another called Frontotemporal Dementia.
“Like Alzheimer’s all of these progressive brain diseases are incurable and we don’t understand what causes any of them,” Mangi said. “Their initial symptoms may be somewhat different from those of Alzheimer’s and may progress somewhat differently, but these too are also ultimately fatal.”
Another presentation for Dexter is titled, “Envisioning a Dementia Friendly Community.”
Mangi said in this talk, he will take the audience on a virtual tour of a composite town where government agencies, first responders, the library, coffee shops, restaurants, stores, groceries, gyms, churches and other organizations have adopted simple practices that make their operations easier to deal with for persons in their community who are living with dementia.
This is something the city of Saline is working toward, according to Mangi.
The series in Saline happened this summer and was offered over the summer at Holy Faith Church. It was well received by the city, which has endorsed the Dementia Friendly Saline initiative with several active efforts underway to demonstrate that Saline is a Dementia Friendly Community.
“There are over 100 Dementia Friendly Communities nationwide today, and as a result of my presenting this talk in July, Saline is today well on its way to joining that network: Our Mayor and City Council adopted a Dementia Friendly resolution, and in the next couple of weeks I will be presenting a workshop to the Saline City employees on dementia friendly practices,” Mangi said.
He said EHM Senior Solutions, supporter of the original, “In This Together” series, is now a major champion of the Dementia Friendly Saline initiative, sponsoring free Dementia Friends Information sessions for any and all community members. EHM is also actively involved in several other dementia awareness efforts here.
“If community members in Dexter were to embrace the Dementia Friendly Community concept, I know that I, and I am confident that my friends at EHM, would be happy to work with them to help add Dexter to the network of Dementia Friendly Communities,” Mangi said.
He said the series is designed for anyone in the community who is or whoever might be a family member or caregiver for, or who is themselves, a person living with dementia.
“Thus, it is pretty inclusive, especially given our aging US population and the growing size of the population with Alzheimer’s: every minute, another person in the US develops Alzheimer’s,” Mangi said.
The Dexter program is a five part series:
September 25, Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. (Part 2) – Understanding Alzheimers and Dementia
October 9, Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. (Part 3) – Effective Communication Strategies
October 30, Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. (Part 4) – Conversations about Dementia
November 6, Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. (Part 5) – Envisioning a Dementia Friendly Community
All programs are approximately one hour with Q & A time at the end. Registration suggested, but not mandatory. To register call the library at 734-426-4477. All are welcome to attend.