It's an impending crisis unlike anything the world has seen to date.
The number of people worldwide living with dementia illnesses, such as Alzheimer's disease, is set to nearly double every 20 years, reaching 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050, according to Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI).
Numbers are one thing, personal stories another. What are some of the symptoms of Alzheimer's?
• Memory lapses - repetition, forgetting the names of familiar people
• Confusion over words - unable to find the "right" word, substituting words for common objects
• Marked changes in mood or personality - mood swings, fearful, anxious, angry, withdrawn
• Trouble with abstract thinking - difficulty balancing a checkbook, following a discussion, understanding an explanation, following directions
• Difficulty completing familiar activities - not completing an activity, no longer engaging in a favorite hobby
• Disorientation - getting lost, losing track of time, day, date, month or not recognizing where they are, wanting to go "home"
• Misplacing items - putting things in unusual places (keys in freezer), not remembering where things are
• Poor or impaired judgement - makes questionable decisions about money management, cannot plan ahead, neglecting personal hygiene, including bathing.
If a family member or close friend has recently been diagnosed, you likely understand the fear that comes with this diagnosis. Families can face many challenges managing the symptoms of dementia.
The book "Confidence to Care ... A Resource for Family Caregivers Providing Alzheimer's Disease or Other Dementias Care at Home" by Molly Carpenter is a good resource. It is an easy-to-read guide for the family caregiver, offering practical insights from both experts and family caregivers to understanding, managing and preventing actions associated with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.
Family caregivers tell their stories and offer advice and support. Knowing others have experienced similar actions and that you are not alone can make all the difference in approaching care with confidence.
Though research continues, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease. But until there is a cure, there is care.
A free Alzheimer's & Other Dementias Daily Companion mobile app, based on content from the book, provides more than 500 searchable tips and solutions for family caregivers. The Confidence to Care at Home Kit includes information to minimize the risk of accidents, keep seniors with dementia engaged and offer helpful tips for family caregivers.
To download the free Confidence to Care at Home Kit and learn more about the Confidence to Care book and companion app, go to HelpforAlzheimersFamilies.com.
Another resource is the website CaregiverStress.com. Under the resource tab, there is a whole section regarding Alzheimer's and dementia that also provides valuable information.
Alzheimer's or dementia does not affect everyone the same way. These tools, along with Teepa Snow's YouTube videos, might help make living with Alzheimer's a little easier.
Rachel Carson is the owner of Home Instead Senior Care, serving the Lowcountry since 1997.