A seminar will be held on Alzheimer's Disease in Jasper on Thursday, March 15, with hopes of also starting local support groups. Dr. Morris Murray Jr., of Jasper, a counselor, writer and …
A seminar will be held on Alzheimer's Disease in Jasper on Thursday, March 15, with hopes of also starting local support groups.
Dr. Morris Murray Jr., of Jasper, a counselor, writer and minister who has dealt with the disease and who helped organize the event, said Thursday the presentation will be at Northside Baptist Church, where he attends church.
The free event will be held from 6 until 8 p.m. and is open to everyone who would like to attend, although reservations are being requested, he said.
Miller Piggott, executive director of Alzheimer's of Central Alabama in Birmingham since 1997, will be the keynote speaker, he said, noting she brings much experience and compassion to the subject. He said that compassion and knowledge is reflected in her presentations, as he was "captivated" the first time he heard her 20 years ago.
Murray noted he has a doctorate dealing with the disease and said he and Piggott had worked together for years on research and presentations connected with Alzheimer's.
According to an online biography, Piggott spent more 20 years working for the University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for Aging and for the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC), serving as the education director for the ADRC.
Murray noted Piggott's work at UAB, pointing out her father was once president of UAB, but also said Alzheimer's of Central Alabama is an independent non-profit organization. According to its website, alzca.org, ACA serves Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Etowah, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lamar, Pickens, Randolph, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa and Walker counties.
At the meeting, "she is going to be creating a virtual dementia tour," he said. "In other words, she will have equipment, headphones and other things that she will be using to create what it feels to have Alzheimer's."
A limited amount of equipment is why reservations are being taken, so that those who register first will be guaranteed to use it for the virtual experience. A total of 49 people are already preregistered, and about that many pieces of equipment have been available, he said.
Officials are checking to see if more equipment can be obtained. He also noted some who made reservations may not be able to come, which opens the way for others to use it.
However, this is only one part of the program, as the latter stages will be informational, including handouts Murray has personally written.
"In the second segments, she will be giving an overview of Alzheimer's, clarifying some of the misunderstandings about the disease," he said, including the causes and costs involved. "In the third segment, she will be talking about tips for caregivers."
Murray's handouts will deal on different topics, including the biblical and theological foundations for ministering to people who have health-related issues. He said many in church do not work past Sunday on how to build their skills and abilities to deal with problems like Alzheimer's.
"I have another paper which deals with appropriate responses to Alzheimer victims. In other words, (the patients) will be saying things and doing things, and if we respond to them in an inappropriate manner, it will only make it worse for them" as they become more frustrated, he said.
He said many times families or caregivers try to talk to Alzheimer's patients and make them act reasonably and sensibly. "Their brain is dying. They can't do that," he said. "There are tips or appropriate responses people can make to these victims."
Murray said Piggott is also going to touch on that in her presentation.
He said many people still misunderstand the disease until it finally is found in their families.
"People don't know how to differentiate between Alzheimer's and dementia," whereas Alzheimer's is actually a form of dementia, he said. "You can have dementia without having Alzheimer's disease. (Alzheimer's) is the irreversible form of dementia."
Other forms of dementia may be caused by reaction to medication, depression, Parkinson's disease and other issues, he said.
"I do think the projections are that within the next 20 to 30 years, we're going to have an increase of an addition 25 million people with Alzheimer's," he said, adding that there are too many for researchers to isolate, ranging from genetic to environmental.
"If Person X has six causes, and you are only treating two of them, that causes problems," he said.
Also, the treatments through medications are now causing more adverse reactions than benefits, Murray said, leading to some drugs being curtailed.
Aricept, a widely-used Alzheimer's drug, retards an enzyme that breaks down one of the neurotransmitters in the brain that is involved in the cause of the disease. "It really doesn't do anything therapeutic or helpful," he said, while the side effects and lack of benefits make it "not worth it in many instances."
Another purpose of the meeting is that it could lead to follow-up support groups to deal with the disease. Those at the meeting who express a personal interest can join groups meeting at Northside Baptist on a regular schedule to be determined later.
Murray said many may have to deal with legal issues involving the disease. He said he could provide information on how to deal with liability issues.
The meeting "is going to be giving support, but it is not going to be sitting there, twiddling thumbs," Murray said. "It is going to be structured to provide as broad a stroke of assistance as we can."
For more information about the event or to make reservations, you can call Northside Baptist Church at 205-384-3214 or Murray at 205-522-3662. You can also email a reservation to firstname.lastname@example.org.