Rotary Club meeting discusses Alzheimer’s and dementia

On Aug. 24, members of the Rotary Club of Pinconning and Standish heard a presentation by Breanna Theisen, a representative of the Alzheimer’s Association of Michigan, on Alzheimer’s and related types of dementia, along with information on the Walks she organizes to raise funds to increase awareness of the disease and for research to find a cure.

Alzheimer’s results from a build-up of plaque in the brain which affects memory. About 200,000 people in Michigan have Alzheimer’s disease, which causes more deaths every year than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

It is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. Women are twice as likely as men to have dementia. Family members who act as caregivers are usually affected as much as, or more than, the person suffering from the disease.

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s. Because of the seriousness of the problem, the State of Michigan has added a dementia unit to its Department of Health & Human Services, the agency that addresses health problems among residents.

Dementia is an umbrella diagnosis which covers a variety of conditions. Alzheimer’s is only one form of dementia, but it makes up a majority of individuals who have dementia. While most people with Alzheimer’s are at least 65 years old, people as young as 30 can be affected by the disease.

Warning signs of Alzheimer’s may include the following: Memory loss that disrupts daily life; Challenges in planning or solving problems; Inability to complete familiar tasks; Confusion about time and place; Trouble understanding visual images; Problems speaking and writing; Misplacing things; Making bad decisions with money; Withdrawal from social activities or hobbies; Changes in mood or personality. Some of these problems are a normal part of the aging process, but when they become serious, they may point to dementia.

Theisen said she coordinates “walks” in the region to raise funds for research and to support families dealing with Alzheimer’s. On Oct. 21, a walk will be held at Bay City’s Wenonah Park.

Other scheduled walks include Oct. 7 in Saginaw and Oct 14 in Midland. Anyone can participate by organizing a team comprised of family and friends and registering the team at “”

Teams are asked to try to raise $100 in sponsorships, but it is not a requirement. Even persons unable to walk can be part of a team.

Information on the Alzheimer’s Association and its walks and other activities can be accessed by phone at 800-272-3900, or online at