Tag Archives: memory cafe

Ask the Expert: Alzheimer’s Disease

by Christy Wisniewski, Geriatric Outreach Specialist, DCMC Memory Clinic

Q: My dear friend was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  She hasn’t come to bridge group for a while and I’m not seeing her at church as much as I used to.  How can I support her as she struggles with this diagnosis?

AlzheimeElderly woman having supportr’s disease not only robs a brain of memories, but often dignity and personhood.  As your friend’s ability to remember names, follow conversations, and navigate her familiar routines becomes more challenging, she may prefer to stay home. But an Alzheimer’s diagnosis does not have to be a tragedy.   She is lucky to have a friend who wants to remind her of the capable person she is!

Research has shown that certain lifestyle choices can improve wellbeing for people who have Alzheimer’s disease.  Exercise, a nutritious diet, and socialization are three key components that can benefit the brain and improve daily function. Start by inviting your friend on a walk to your favorite eatery while engaging in conversation about the valuable person she still is.  Allow her to talk about her fears, and let her know she is not alone.

The Door County Memory Café is a gathering place where people who have memory loss, as well as their friends or family, are enlightened and engaged in activity and conversation.  This free program takes place at Sturgeon Bay’s United Methodist Church the first Monday of each month from 2:00-3:30.

For more information on the Memory Café, call Christy Wisniewski at (920) 746-3504.

Ministry’s Memory Clinic: Helping Patients “Do Something” About Dementia

Door County has the third highest percentage of adults aged 55 and older in the state of Wisconsin, and by 2015 it is to projected to have the highest. And since age is the number one risk factor for dementia, Door County has a need for quality dementia care.

Recognizing this reality, Ministry Door County Medical Center established the Ministry Memory Clinic, a comprehensive memory care department whose mission is to provide excellence in the early diagnosis and treatment of dementia. Any Door or Kewaunee resident can receive a free screening evaluation, often provided in the home environment, as well as more thorough diagnostics, therapeutic services, and connection to community resources.

Memory Clinic outreach specialist Christy Wisniewski

Memory Clinic outreach specialist Christy Wisniewski

Christy Wisniewski, outreach specialist at the Memory Clinic, has seen first hand how the work of the clinic impacts people’s lives. “Many patients learn that their dementia is caused by a treatable condition. If their dementia is caused by Alzheimer’s disease, for which there is not yet a cure, they become empowered with treatment and research options, wellness opportunities and greater future planning,” she says. “And with many active older people who want to stay in their homes, we’re meeting a need to help people do just that.” Since opening in 2011, the Memory Clinic has had approximately 300 referrals and served these patients through screenings, diagnosis and treatment, as well as ongoing monitoring and communication with the patients and their caregivers.

Wisniewski recently worked with a couple in which the husband, in his early 60s, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by his primary care provider, but given little information on how to proceed. The couple was feeling overwhelmed, and found Ministry’s Memory Clinic through an online search. “Their first question was ‘What can I do?’” says Wisniewski. She connected the couple to resources in the community, gave the man exercises and opportunities to improve his brain health, and shared local resources with his wife to help her deal with the stresses of caregiving. “It was very gratifying to see their gradual relief, as they learned that yes, there are many things to be done to improve the health of a patient with dementia.”

Deb Whitelaw-Gorski, director of Rehab services at Ministry, says the quality of the Memory Clinic team brings a high level of care to patients. “Our occupational therapists participate in the evaluation process,” she says, “which helps patients understand how a diagnosis affects their daily lives.” Dr. Paul Board, an internal medicine specialist with expertise in the diagnosis of dementia-related disorders, works with the team to understand the details of each individual patient’s diagnosis, which includes input from families and caregivers. “Our goal is to help patients leave the clinic with a greater understanding of their situation, and a plan and resources to help them move forward,” Whitelaw-Gorski adds.

In addition to the Memory Clinic that diagnoses and treats dementia, Ministry is sponsoring several new community programs that address the needs of patients with dementia and their families. Memory In Development (M.IN.D) is a brain enhancement program for people with early memory loss or early dementia diagnosis and their caregiver.  This 6-week workshop will take place at Scandia Village Good Samaritan in Sister Bay, and will meet Wednesdays from 12-3 pm starting September 24, 2014. M.IN.D. offers participants the opportunity “to do something about it” through cognitive exercise and physical exercise, and gives caregivers exposure to local support resources.

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The Memory Clinic helps patients and their family members

Click here for more information about Ministry’s Memory Clinic. To register for M.IN.D,  or call Christy Wisniewski at (920) 746-3504.