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Dementia support group to meet in Grandview

GRANDVIEW - The Lewy Body Dementia Association is forming a Central Washington Lewy Body Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease and other Dementias Support Group in Grandview.

The group is for family, caregivers or friends of people with Lewy body dementias (LBD), Alzheimer's or any other form of Dementia. The support group will begin meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) and will meet the fourth Tuesday of each month from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at Orchard House Assisted Living, located at 2001 West Fifth Street.

Gaylene Tucker and Jana Bell of Orchard House have volunteered to organize the meetings, giving support to those in attendance.

Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form of irreversible, progressive dementia and LBD is the second-most common cause of progressive dementia in the elderly. LBD is an umbrella term that includes two clinical diagnoses: "dementia with Lewy bodies" and "Parkinson's disease dementia."

The disease affects an estimated 1.3 million Americans and their families. It features dementia plus varying combinations of visual hallucinations, unpredictable levels of alertness, wakefulness and cognitive abilities from day to day.

Parkinson's-like symptoms such as changes in gait, increasing rigidity or falls, a sleep disorder where people physically enact their dreams, sometimes injuring themselves or their bed partners; and an extreme and sometimes dangerous sensitivity to medications used to treat hallucinations are also symptoms of the disease. Also common are changes in mood, like depression or apathy, and dysfunction in the body's autonomic nervous system, which regulates functions such as digestion and blood pressure.

As a result, Lewy body dementias affect every aspect of a person, including their mood, the way they think and the way they move. The initial symptoms of LBD vary from person to person and can mimic other more well-known neurological diseases especially in the early years.

As a result, people with LBD are often initially diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or similar brain diseases. Over time, people with LBD develop very similar cognitive, physical, sleep and behavioral features, all caused by the presence of Lewy bodies throughout the brain.

With the triple threat of cognitive, psychiatric and physical symptoms, as well as an unpredictable disease progression, LBD creates a set of highly-demanding challenges to family caregivers.

Low awareness of LBD in both the general public and the medical community adds a component of isolation to the already significant burden on LBD families. Interacting with other LBD families reduces the sense of isolation and allows sharing of practical caregiving tips, emotional support and personal experiences with community-based resources.

For more information, contact Gaylene Tucker at (509) 391-0306 or gaylene_cci@clearwire.net or contact Jana Bell at (509) 308-5667 or janateal@juno.com.

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