The signs of Alzheimer’s disease were not immediately evident. At the first grocery store, her grandmother forgot the pumpkin and a few other items for the holiday dinner. “It’s not a big deal. Everyone forgets sometimes,” the granddaughter tried to assure her.
Too embarrassed to return to the store, her grandmother insisted on going to another market. And then another. And then another.
By the end of the grocery store excursion, the granddaughter, just home for the holidays, began to realize the extent of her grandmother’s cognitive impairment. The family would soon have to make some tough decisions about medical care and living arrangements.
Paul Schulz, MD, associate professor of neurology at UTHealth Medical School, said this is a common scenario that plays out when families gather for the holidays.
“We tend to get an increase in calls during the holidays or right after the first of the year,” said Schulz, who directs the Brain Health Clinic, which is part of the UT Center for Healthy Aging and UTHealth’s Consortium on Aging. “Children and grandchildren come home for the holidays and get a glimpse of the problems.”
Because of the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, UTHealth’s retiree organization, which is known as UTHRO, is raising funds to benefit the Brain Health Clinic, which assesses cognitive health and treats older adult patients.
“This is a cause near and dear to my heart as the statistics for developing dementia as a senior are just dreadful,” said Frances Poole Knight, chair of the UTHealth Excellence Fund Steering Committee for UTHRO.
Gifts to the Excellence Fund will enable the Brain Health Clinic to augment the work the health care team does in coordinating resources for families, helping to educate patients and families and in managing memory and cognitive health.
“With this type of support, we can expand resources that are so critical to improving the quality of life for both the patients and their families,” said Schulz, who also directs the Dementia, Memory Disorders, and Cognitive and Behavioral Dysfunction Program for the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann Hospital – Texas Medical Center.
For a donation form and additional information, visit www.uthro.org.
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