Chances are you personally know someone that’s affected by dementia. In fact, 7.7 million new cases are diagnosed every year, with 47.5 million people living with dementia worldwide.
Within the United States, there are at least 5 million people currently living with age-related dementias. As the population increases, these numbers are expected to rise. To put this into perspective, it’s estimated that one out of every six women and one out of every ten men, living past the age of 55 will develop dementia.
Dementia describes a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social relationships severely enough to interfere with daily interactions. Dementia is a symptom of a variety of diseases. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of progressive dementia in older adults, but there are a number of other diseases that can cause dementia as well. Early screening is by far the most effective way to help detect Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Early detection of dementia may be able to allow intervention to ameliorate or delay the onset of symptoms. This can improve the overall quality of life for both the patient and their loved ones. While there is currently no cure for all dementia, there are several medications that can help treat symptoms. For the other causes of dementia, there are lifestyle modifications that limit the progression of the disease. Knowing sooner can also allow you to make many important decisions, such as planning for long-term care, and organizing estate affairs.
Ask your primary physician for advice if you are concerned about yourself or someone in your family. He or she can recommend the first steps, which typically is a baseline test administered by a trained professional. Depending on the results the next steps will be determined.
For someone in the role of caregiver for a dementia patient, help is available. Locally the Alzheimer’s Support Network of Naples has a 24-hour Help Line that is answered by Alzheimer’s Support Network Staff. For help any time of the day or night, you may call 239-262-8388. The Alzheimer’s Support Network is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit corporation dedicated to serving the thousands of families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia in Collier County, and beyond.
One in three families is affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The progression of this fatal illness ranges from two to 20 years. Due to the nature of the caregiving burden, Alzheimer’s disease seriously impacts the lives of everyone in the family.
The book I recommend to my patients to learn more about the disease that is particularly beneficial to caregivers is “The 36 Hour Day” by Mace and Rabins. Peter V. Rabins, MD, MPH is a world renowned researcher on dementia. He is Director of Geriatric and Neuropsychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at John Hopkins University. He will be on Marco Island on November 5 giving a seminar. During the seminar Dr. Rabins will discuss:
- The process of diagnosing dementia.
- The latest information on treatment options for Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- Identifying specific behavior problems associated with dementia such as wandering, sundowning, and “I want to go home” syndrome.
- Management techniques for these challenging behaviors.
- The emotional and physical impact of caregiving on caregivers.
The seminar is being sponsored as a community service by the Council of Catholic Women from San Marco Catholic Church and Arden Court at Lely Palms in Naples. There is no charge to attend the seminar, but you must RSVP by calling 239-417-8511 or emailing LelyPalms@Arden-courts.com.