Seniors: Dementia, A Growing Concern

Oct 12th, 2009 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Recent numbers out on the effects of dementia on the American and global population leave one with pause and reflection. According to the projections, by 2010, there will be 35.6 million dementia victims in the United States.  That figure is made more graphic when you consider that that means one in eight persons over 65 will be affected and a frightening one in two for persons over 85.  This is a tsunami of a serious condition which debilitates and renders victims almost helpless.

Care needs will burgeon.  Already in numerous communities, there are what is now labeled as Memory Care Centers, which is a means for housing and caring for persons whose inability to be cared for privately will require 24/7 attention in a facility with staff, housing and other essential care.

It is not an encouraging picture.  The limits of capable staff already create major voids in adequate care for persons who are constantly unpredictable in their needs.  Lack of oversight can create major problems necessitating immediate attention.  If that happens during a period of low staff availability, that can be a major problem.

Putting up a shingle and advertising for the housing (or is that warehousing) of persons with memory issues does not necessarily qualify a facility for competent care.  Of course, state regulations and the oversight of family with their loved one can create a very healthy and constant climate for accountability.

More and more information and attention is becoming available to shed light on the issues and conditions which affect dementia patients.  There are no short cuts and no easy solutions.  Persons who attempt in home care may be themselves victims of the patient’s illness.  It is an exhausting undertaking to look after a person 24/7, which is what is faced, if that responsibility is assumed.

Taking on the expenses of caregivers around the clock can quickly eat into resources that may be available, but not inexhaustible.  This concern, while noble in its intent, must be examined by all the appropriate members of the family, with an eye toward and information from those who can offer a reality assessment.  Reality checks, whatever the choice for care, will be necessary from time to time to determine if the patient is under the best care.

Affection and attention are two very powerful influences on those who wish to offer their support.  Caring for oneself is critical, however, in order for that affection and attention to be offered for as long as  possible.



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  1. [...] Before our call I’d heard about a study published by Rush University Medical Center that found fewer ‘plaques and tangles’ in the brains of those with purpose in life – ‘plaques and tangles’ are thought to be a primary cause of dementia, a growing concern in today’s society. [...]

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