What Can You Do to Stop the Suffering of Alzheimer’s?

Recently the Alzheimer’s Association released the 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report [PDF]. Not surprisingly, we’re hearing Alzheimer’s disease called an epidemic. There are about 5.2 million Americans with Alzheimer’s today, and this number is anticipated to grow to 13–16 million Americans by the year 2050.

The other thing we’re learning is that one in three seniors is dying with some type of dementia. You know the #1 risk factor for getting Alzheimer’s is simply our age. The vast majority of people with Alzheimer’s are age 75 or older. And as the large portion of our population, the Baby Boomers, is aging, we’re going to see significant year-over-year growth of the number of people with Alzheimer’s in our society.
So let’s let these statistics inform us. If you’re a health care professional or someone who works in the senior living industry, start thinking about what you can do to be part of the solution so that people with Alzheimer’s don’t have to suffer.
You know, this is really about getting the skills to be able to identify symptoms of dementia. Whether we work in a doctor’s office or a therapy clinic or a hospital, we have to know what we’re looking for, and see the symptoms of dementia, and then get that information over to the physician.
And then more importantly, as a health professional, how do you support and help somebody with Alzheimer’s by adapting and adjusting your approach and expectations to the just-right level of challenge? Not expecting people with Alzheimer’s to do more than they’re capable of—which might create safety problems. But also not doing everything for people with Alzheimer’s to the point that their health deteriorates or their willingness to live goes away.
So as these reports come out, I hope that everybody who works in the health care industry takes that information seriously and gets the education and training they need to help individuals at every stage of their dementia process. And to help educate, train, and support their loved ones and their care partners—because they need our help too. They need us as a valuable resource along this journey.
I believe people with Alzheimer’s can coexist with their disease and have quality of life. But it’s all about us, becoming skilled in Dementia Capable Care, and enabling these individuals to use their remaining abilities and to keep them safe.
Please read the report. And also please become part of the solution and support those with Alzheimer’s and their family members today. Thank you.

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