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Dementia: More Common Than You May Think

By Erin Wallace, Seasons Program Manager

Many of us are familiar with the terms dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It seems that you cannot go far these days without hearing it on the news, talking about it with a friend, or seeing an ad for a medication to help with memory loss.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease remains a subject that most try to avoid when looking at their personal situation. Whether it is with a spouse, sibling, parent, friend, co-worker or even ourselves, these thoughts can trigger very powerful and uncomfortable emotions. Often, unless we are confronted directly with dementia, we prefer to think of it as “someone else’s problem.”

What you might not be familiar with is the pre-valence of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms

of dementia. In the Alzheimer’s Association 2014 Report an estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that 170,000 of those are Michigan residents. By the year 2025, the number of Michigan residents living with Alzheimer’s disease is projected to increase by 29.4% to 220,000. Currently it is reported that 1 in 9 adults over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s  disease, or some other form of dementia.

The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will escalate rapidly in coming years as the baby boomer generation ages. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple, from 5 million to as many as 16 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or stop the disease.

These growing statistics prove that this is not just someone else’s problem. At this time the National Institute on Health reports that there are 84 known and identified different forms of dementia—Alzheimer’s disease is just one of those.

Currently there are two known risk factors for dementia—genetics and aging. As we know, these factors cannot be controlled. There is a lot of growing attention focused on dementia

and researchers are working tirelessly to find a cure. The saying, “If you have seen one person with dementia, you have seen one person with dementia,” couldn’t be truer. This statement validates the complication of working to find a cure. The FDA has several therapies in development that may offer temporary slowing of the individual’s disease progression or even restore cognitive function. Unfortunately, it may take years before these therapies are available to the general public, as they are still going through clinical trials.

So what can you do in the meantime? Many accredited, national organizations have similar statements for those experiencing symptoms of dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association states, “The best approach is to adopt a proactive brain health lifestyle through exercise and partici-pating in mentally stimulating and socially engaging activities, which may help sustain brain function.” In addition, it is recommended to work closely with your healthcare professional. This is to assist in ruling out reversible causes of dementia of which you may not even be aware.

Senior Services has three innovative and outstanding programs to help support the person in whatever stage of memory changes they may be experiencing.

The Dublin Club: Is a 14 week course, designed for individuals experiencing very minor changes within their memory, or Mild Cognitive Impairment. These individuals are interested in learning about the changes occurring within their brain and ways to improve their overall functioning. Each group member in the last four semesters has seen either an increase in cognitive abilities or has maintained. This group is unique as it is one of only two in the state of Michigan and one of 48 in the nation.

Birchwood: Is a newly designed daytime program for individuals who may be experiencing minor changes with their memory or in physical health as they age. Whether you are living with mild memory loss, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, or other physical changes, the staff understands your goal to live well and want to help you reach personal goals. Stay mentally challenged and engaged through unique brain training programs, exercise in the new fitness room and enjoy the camaraderie of others living with similar changes.

Seasons: Is a daytime program for individuals who are living with increased changes in their memory from dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease, or physical health changes as they age. Participants benefit by engaging in meaningful therapeutic activities of current and past interests. Structure and staff support enhances individual success and enjoyment. Caregivers benefit by receiving a break from their daily caregiving responsibilities and peace of mind knowing their loved one is socially engaged in a supportive environment.

Statistically, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease will affect someone you know. With three state-of-the-art programs, Senior Services is sure to have one that is the right fit for you or your loved one! Call 989-633-3700 today to learn more about the programs, schedule a tour and discover how better living “with memory loss” starts here.

Health and dementia statistics are from the Alzheimer’s Association, the National Institute on Health and the National Center for Health Statistics and the Center for Disease Control.