Connect with us


Dementia numbers and awareness are on the rise

Dementia numbers and awareness are on the rise
Dementia numbers and awareness are on the rise


Rick Fowler, 81, went out for a drive one night about a year ago and suddenly realized he didn't know where he was. Maybe he'd been there before, maybe not. But he wasn't sure, and it scared him.

After wandering around for a bit, he finally came across a familiar landmark and was able to return home.

“It was enough to make me realize I better get tested and find out what's going on,” he said.

Become a member

Mainstreet has no paywalls, but our journalism on the street isn't free. Join the people in your neighborhood who make this important work possible.

The next thing he and his wife, Pat, 76, did was schedule a doctor's appointment, and after Rick underwent a series of tests, they learned he was in the early stages of dementia.

“I had no idea,” Pat said. “We… this is like pregnancy to me, and now when people say, 'We're pregnant,' I say 'we' because it's us together.”

Aging issue logo

We hear the term dementia a lot, but what exactly is it?

“Dementia is simply a set of symptoms that cause very profound changes in thinking and memory that interfere with a person's ability to function in daily life,” said Shelley Ann Levy, PhD, a clinical neuropsychologist and assistant professor in the University of Florida's Department of Clinical and Health Psychology.

Alzheimer's disease is the most well-known form of dementia, and according to the Alzheimer's Association, Florida has 580,000 people age 65 or older with Alzheimer's disease, the second-highest number of seniors in the United States after California.

The association reported that by 2023, the number of people with Alzheimer's disease will reach 7 million across the United States, and one in three seniors will die from Alzheimer's or another type of dementia.

According to the association, Alachua County has 41,100 residents age 65 or older, and of those, an estimated 4,800, or 11.6 percent, have Alzheimer's disease.

“Dementia is a big term that encompasses any type of progressive cognitive or brain impairment,” says Donna Lee, program manager for the Alzheimer's Association's Central and North Florida chapter. “It's like using cancer as an umbrella term, but, as we all know, there are many different types of cancer.”

And usually, like cancer, the problems start slowly.

“For people with mild cognitive impairment, a memory test can sometimes help identify the problem,” Lee says. “This is the starting point for them to start paying attention to what's going on.”

That's exactly what Rick Fowler and his wife did when they found out he had vascular dementia. They were two of 11 people who attended a recent “Smart Caregiving Options for Seniors” training session to help the couple cope.

“I needed to know, like stop using the word remember,” Pat said. “I knew there were things I was doing wrong, and I needed to find ways to do it better and not get frustrated or depressed.”

Pat Fowler (left) and her husband, Rick Fowler, attend a Savvy Caregiver meeting.
Photo by Ronnie Lavler. Pat Fowler (left) and her husband, Rick Fowler, attend a Savvy Caregiver meeting.

Elder Options also offers regular ‘smart carer training’ sessions, both in person and via Zoom, throughout the year, as well as a second stage support programme to help carers regain their independence.

“Our primary role is to educate dementia caregivers,” says Amanda Sparkman, a caregiver support coach at Elder Options. “The benefit of taking this class is twofold: you gain practical skills that you can apply to caregiving at home, and you also get to meet other caregivers, which can make you feel less alone in the caregiving journey.”

Caring for someone with dementia can be tough, and sometimes caregivers need a break. Al's Place, a senior care program funded by a grant from Elder Options, provides adult day care for Alachua County residents diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

“It's a respite program,” said Jessica Burley, a nurse and program manager. “Our program is designed to take some of the strain off caregivers so they don't get burned out.”

Caregivers often continue battling alongside suffering loved ones for years, so taking a break is crucial.

“Many of our caregivers end up getting sicker than the people they care for,” she said. “Most of our clients come three days a week, but some can come five.”

Burley said they plan daily activities to keep their customers active and engaged.

“It brings them out of a shell where they might have been,” she said. “Most of our caregivers are spouses or sons or daughters who have families and full-time jobs, so our clients spend a lot of time sitting in a chair in front of the TV and not even moving around. We get them up and doing little activities that use their brains and use their hands to craft. We want this to be the happiest time of their day.”

Experts also say that people of color are more susceptible to dementia: Studies have shown that compared with older white people, African-Americans are twice as likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer's disease, and Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely to develop it, though experts are still trying to understand why.

“One big factor has to do with social determinants of health,” says Levy, the University of Florida neuropsychologist. “Systemic social and economic forces in our culture are compounding stressors in these communities.”

Heike Accorsi, bilingual programs manager for the Alzheimer's Association's Brain Bus, stands outside her car at a recent event.
Photo by Ronnie Lavler. Heike Accorsi, bilingual programs manager for the Alzheimer's Association's Brain Bus, stands outside her car at a recent event.

These factors cover a wide range of issues.

“We're thinking about access to health care, neighborhood safety, neighborhood walkability, poverty, access to quality education, we're thinking about access to quality jobs,” she said, “all of these things that impact our health in intangible ways.”

Awareness is key, which is one of the reasons the Alzheimer's Association of Florida is touring the state with its purple Brain Bus and Brain Van.

“By using the bus, we're able to reach communities that may not have easy access to the information they need,” said Heike Accorsi, bilingual program manager for the Alzheimer's Brain Bus Program. “Rural communities can be hard to reach, and by getting the Brain Bus or van there, we're able to fill that gap.”

Amanda Sparkman, a caregiver support coach with Elder Options, is preparing the supplies.
Photo by Ronnie Lavler. Amanda Sparkman, a caregiver support coach with Elder Options, is preparing the supplies.

Regardless of race, ethnicity, geographic location, or social status, dementia is a burden not only for those who suffer from the disease but also for the family members who care for them.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 840,000 people in Florida provide more than 1.3 billion hours of unpaid caregiving to people with dementia. 66% of dementia caregivers have a chronic health condition, 29% suffer from depression and 14% report poor physical health.

“This is the most costly way to die,” said Glenn Smith, principal investigator at the Florida Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, a coalition of groups that promote the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's and related dementias. “It's a huge medical burden, an economic burden and a societal burden.”

According to Smith, the typical time from diagnosis to death due to Alzheimer's disease is about 12 years.

“Individuals become increasingly dependent on others to maintain their health, safety and well-being,” he says. “As their thinking skills decline further, they may require paid professional support or move into assisted living or skilled nursing care. All of this places a social and economic burden on families, as this care is expensive.”

Christina Ramos, executive director of Gainesville-based Touching Hearts at Home, a home health agency, learned that firsthand when her grandmother, Rita Noah, now 86, was diagnosed with dementia 14 years ago.

“Going through that mental, physical, emotional rollercoaster ride not only allowed me to empathize with what she was going through and the changes she was perceiving, but also how taxing and demanding it can be for a family,” Ramos said.

Ramos said she has experienced how the relationship between caregiver and loved one can change.

“I looked forward to seeing and talking to my grandmother every day,” she says. “I feel like I've lost my best friend and my grandmother, but when she comes back, I know she remembers me. Those moments are fleeting and cherished.”

A family photo of Christina Ramos, executive director of Touch Hearts at Home, and her grandmother, Rita Noah, who has dementia.
Photo by Cristina Ramos A family photo of Christina Ramos, executive director of Touching Hearts at Home, and her grandmother, Rita Noah, who suffers from dementia.

Her grandmother's illness prompted Ramos to change her career path: She, her mother, father and brother started a home health care company to provide the kind of care she wanted for her grandmother “for other seniors, and for other families.”

Shira Bortz, occupational therapist and creator of the Bortz Memory Technique, a cognitive assessment tool, calls the current situation a “dementia pandemic” spreading across society.

“There will be a huge increase in dementia between 2025 and 2050,” she says. “We don't have enough trained caregivers and facilities to accommodate them. We need to do better.”




The mention sources can contact us to remove/changing this article

What Are The Main Benefits Of Comparing Car Insurance Quotes Online

LOS ANGELES, CA / ACCESSWIRE / June 24, 2020, / Compare-autoinsurance.Org has launched a new blog post that presents the main benefits of comparing multiple car insurance quotes. For more info and free online quotes, please visit https://compare-autoinsurance.Org/the-advantages-of-comparing-prices-with-car-insurance-quotes-online/ The modern society has numerous technological advantages. One important advantage is the speed at which information is sent and received. With the help of the internet, the shopping habits of many persons have drastically changed. The car insurance industry hasn't remained untouched by these changes. On the internet, drivers can compare insurance prices and find out which sellers have the best offers. View photos The advantages of comparing online car insurance quotes are the following: Online quotes can be obtained from anywhere and at any time. Unlike physical insurance agencies, websites don't have a specific schedule and they are available at any time. Drivers that have busy working schedules, can compare quotes from anywhere and at any time, even at midnight. Multiple choices. Almost all insurance providers, no matter if they are well-known brands or just local insurers, have an online presence. Online quotes will allow policyholders the chance to discover multiple insurance companies and check their prices. Drivers are no longer required to get quotes from just a few known insurance companies. Also, local and regional insurers can provide lower insurance rates for the same services. Accurate insurance estimates. Online quotes can only be accurate if the customers provide accurate and real info about their car models and driving history. Lying about past driving incidents can make the price estimates to be lower, but when dealing with an insurance company lying to them is useless. Usually, insurance companies will do research about a potential customer before granting him coverage. Online quotes can be sorted easily. Although drivers are recommended to not choose a policy just based on its price, drivers can easily sort quotes by insurance price. Using brokerage websites will allow drivers to get quotes from multiple insurers, thus making the comparison faster and easier. For additional info, money-saving tips, and free car insurance quotes, visit https://compare-autoinsurance.Org/ Compare-autoinsurance.Org is an online provider of life, home, health, and auto insurance quotes. This website is unique because it does not simply stick to one kind of insurance provider, but brings the clients the best deals from many different online insurance carriers. In this way, clients have access to offers from multiple carriers all in one place: this website. On this site, customers have access to quotes for insurance plans from various agencies, such as local or nationwide agencies, brand names insurance companies, etc. "Online quotes can easily help drivers obtain better car insurance deals. All they have to do is to complete an online form with accurate and real info, then compare prices", said Russell Rabichev, Marketing Director of Internet Marketing Company. CONTACT: Company Name: Internet Marketing CompanyPerson for contact Name: Gurgu CPhone Number: (818) 359-3898Email: [email protected]: https://compare-autoinsurance.Org/ SOURCE: Compare-autoinsurance.Org View source version on accesswire.Com:https://www.Accesswire.Com/595055/What-Are-The-Main-Benefits-Of-Comparing-Car-Insurance-Quotes-Online View photos


to request, modification Contact us at Here or [email protected]