I am a witness to the effects of Alzheimer’s Dementia in my adorable 85-year-old mother. I have learned more about this disease process recently that are worth sharing. Let’s begin with some interesting statistics.
Alzheimer’s dementia is the 6th leading cause of death in the united states. That may not sound so impressive until you consider that 1 in 3 seniors dies having Alzheimer's or another dementia. Worse, it is increasing dramatically. From the years 2000 to 2015 heart disease deaths decreased 11% and Alzheimer's deaths increased 123%. Do you wonder why? Part of the answer is that this condition cannot really be prevented or cured, although medications can help lessen memory loss and confusion for a limited time—and does so better, the earlier treatment is started.
What’s more arousing is the caretaker burden Alzheimer’s and other dementias cause. It is estimated that 16.1 million Americans currently provide unpaid care for Alzheimer's or other dementia patients. Approximately 83% of those who provide help to these older American adults are their very own family members—and these patients are not easy to care for! There is twice as much emotional, financial and physical difficulty among those who care for older dementia patients compared to those who care for older folks without dementia, as you can imagine! The changes in personality are the most difficult changes for family members to deal with.
I can remember when my mother (now age 85) agreed bring her mother-in-law (my father’s mother) into their home in a full care arrangement. My mom used to complain how mean and unreasonable grandma was, even verbally mistreating her with hurtful profanities for no apparent real reason.