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Dementia: Where Do We Begin

by Lynne  S. Smiland - Sanger Public Library 

Dementia, while not a specific disease on its own, has impacted many families at some point with loved ones struggling with the characteristic reduced memory and logic capabilities. Wider awareness of the condition has grown in recent years as beloved celebrities have shared news of their own struggles with it as one facet of a larger diagnosis. Actor Bruce Willis has recently been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, and comedian Robin Williams was found to have suffered from Lewy body dementia, for example. Though these and other diseases and conditions are prevalent, about 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases are connected to Alzheimer’s disease in particular. While memory issues are common in all types of dementia cases, other signs and symptoms can vary a great deal and require different approaches to medical and emotional treatments.

There are organizations that offer information and resources for patients and their caregivers, including Dementia Friendly America, a nonprofit national network of communities, organizations, and individuals. Locally, Dementia Friendly Denton County is one of these organizations and promotes organized nature walks, dementia friendly worship services, and meet-ups at cafes and restaurants that are particularly patient with people with dementia related issues. Dr. Michele Steigleder, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and certified Dementia Care Provider specialist, is a board member of this group, and will be speaking at Sanger Public Library on Thursday, February 8, at 6:30 to give an overview of dementia and what resources are available.

Sanger Public Library will also debut their new cognitive care kits, which are designed to educate caregivers, encourage positive interactions, and facilitate reminiscence with people dealing with the cognitive struggles brought on by dementia. Currently, there are three kits available: one each for early, mid, and advanced stage dementia. Each kit has one or more informative books for caregivers, and a variety of puzzles, games, and memory prompt activities which have been tailored for where a person with dementia is on their path. Activities can be done mostly independently or within a group setting, and can be modified to meet a specific person’s ability or interest. A kit may be checked out for two weeks, with renewals available as demand permits. 

To learn more about dementia, be sure to attend Dr. Steigleder’s presentation on the 8th and investigate the library’s cognitive care kits. For more information, phone 940-458-3257 or come by the library at 501 Bolivar St.


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