Understanding Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias

The Alzheimer’s Association Family Services Director Annie Marrs spoke at the February meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia about the more than 5 million individuals who are living with Alzheimer’s and 16 million are serving as their unpaid caregivers in the United States alone. The disease is a global crisis that impacts numerous families right here in our community. Alzheimer’s is not normal aging and no one has to face this disease alone or without information.

The Alzheimer’s Association has created an education program covering the basics of Alzheimer’s and dementia to provide a general overview for people who are facing a diagnosis as well as those who wish to be informed:

  • Explores the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
  • Examines what happens in a brain affected by Alzheimer’s.
  • Details the risk factors for and three general stages of the disease.
  • Identifies FDA-approved treatments available to treat some symptoms.
  • Looks ahead to what’s on the horizon for Alzheimer’s research.
  • Offers helpful Alzheimer’s Association resources.

The program was moderated by SSV board member Sue Friedman. The podcast is below. The slide presentation can be found here.

Annie Marrs is the family services director of the Alzheimer’s Association, Central and Western Virginia Chapter, celebrating over 12 years with the organization. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Annie serves individuals impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in many ways. Annie provides direct services such as facilitating support groups, presenting in the community and to our first responders, as well as providing family and individual care consultations to help navigate the progression of this disease. Annie also provides volunteer training and support to new volunteers joining the Cause to share their own gifts of support, public speaking, event assistance, and more.

Annie lives in Louisa with her husband and two young children. She enjoys a good cup of coffee, taking photographs, and hiking through our state and national parks.

Program Summary

Annie Marrs spoke on Understanding Alzheimer’s and related disorders. Her presentation reviewed many of the issues that surround Alzheimer’s including the impact of the disease, typical changes, risk factors, stages, treatment, research, programs and services offered by the Alzheimer’s Association. With rare exceptions Alzheimer’s is a disease of aging, and with the population living longer the economic impact of the disease is immense and serves as a stimulus for research. In normal aging, stress and multitasking may cause confusion. When confusion results in interfering with daily functioning, there may be greater cause for concern.

There are three stages of the disease, early, middle and late. Early diagnosis allows the patient to be a partner in their long-term care plan. In Alzheimer’s there is no cure, but there are steps that can be helpful, medications can be useful with early symptoms and may slow progression. Local support groups are available to patients and caregivers. The Sentara hospital has one monthly. Family members in the audience acknowledged the helpful support of the local Alzheimer’s Association. For further information, contact Annie at amarrs@alz.org or 434-973-6122. A 24-hour hotline is available at 1-800-272-3900.

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