More than 5 million Americans are challenged day to day by a disease known by many, yet few fully understand the magnitude of it, Alzheimer’s. German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer first described the disease in 1906. So what is Alzheimer’s? The disease is actually a form of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. It slowly progresses over time and the symptoms become severe enough to interfere with daily tasks of people’s lives. Alzheimer’s accounts for 50 to 80 percent of all dementia cases and is most prevalent in people over the age of 65. More than 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s and at the current time there is no cure. Among those 5 million who are faced with the disease, approximately 200,000 of them have younger-onset Alzheimer’s meaning that people who are in their 40s and 50s can be affected. These numbers are projected to rise 40 percent by the year 2025, meaning the estimated number who could potentially have the disease will be 7.1 million.
Alzheimer’s not only challenges the lives of individuals who have the disease, but it also tests those who care for them. In 2012, 15.4 million caregivers provided more than 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care. Many of these caregivers include spouses, children or even grandchildren who spend countless hours caring for their loved one with Alzheimer’s. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia is a large task. Between helping them with their activities of daily living, trying to understand their drastic behavior changes and trying to keep their own lives in tact, more than 60 percent of caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high. Many families run out of the resources and means to care for their loved ones at home and have to turn to professional help.
Due to the higher number of people with Alzheimer’s, many assisted livings, nursing homes and retirement communities have created memory loss “wings” of their facilities dedicated to those with dementia related disorders. These facilities have structured part of their company to help care for all aspects of people with Alzheimer’s. In more recent years, some companies have switched from general assisted livings to full time memory care assisted livings. They specialize in the caring for people and elders who suffer from memory loss disorders. The staff at these facilities are fully trained on the ins and outs of Alzheimer’s and dementia. The buildings are designed to create a safe environment for the people living in them yet still giving them a sense of home. The activities that the residents participate in are created to help stimulate different parts of the brain to possibly slow the progression of the disease. Even the food prepared is packed full of brain beneficial vitamins and nutrients to ensure each resident has the healthiest possible brain.
Even though the Alzheimer’s disease has taken its toll on many people throughout the world, some good has come from it. There is more education on how to keep your brain active and healthy to prevent memory loss. The health care industry has gained a new member with memory care assisted livings and the people who battle the disease have benefitted the most from these specialized assisted livings. By providing this specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia care, families feel a sense of comfort knowing that the staff is fully trained on the disease. Compared to doctors, it is similar to having your heart condition treat by a cardiologist rather than a general practitioner. Both doctors (or facilities) are capable of treating you, but you know the cardiologist is the expert.
If your loved one needs the specialized attention that is given by memory care assisted livings, you are in luck. Throughout the United States, there is an array of assisted livings for you to choose from. To see all memory care assisted livings near you, visit www.alz.org. Give your loved one the care they deserve and enjoy the comfort of knowing they are in good hands.
*Data for this post came from http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_facts_and_figures.asp.