The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease is growing and growing fast. An estimated 5.4 million American
s of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease. One in nine people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, the number of pooeple age 65 an older with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple, from 5.2 million to a projected 13.8 million. Worldwide, there are an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide living with dementia.
Up until recently, most people were not comfortable talking about dementia. We are now finally talking about it. Most people I know have a loved one…a Mom or Dad, cousin, friend or colleague with dementia. We need a plan BEFORE Alzheimer’s or some other dementia shows up on our doorstep.
Lets discuss daughter Carin, a researcher at a major university, is caring for her Mom Alice who is 84 year old with moderate stage Alzheimer’s disease. Carin is an only child and works full time. Carin noticed Alice began to become forgetful over a year or so ago. After a full neurological work-up, the neurologist diagnosed Alice with probable Alzheimer’s disease.
Carin knew she needed to make a plan. Keep in mind, there is no standard dementia care plan, as each person and family is unique. In my consultation with Carin, knowing the type of dementia her Mom had was cornerstone to the planning process. Alice had her legal documents prepared several years ago, such as a living will and health care and financial power of attorney. Knowing the type of dementia, helped her understand what to expect from this type of dementia. Second, Carin needed to find out how much money her Mom had available including determining if she had a long term care insurance policy. Carin remembered her Mom had expressed years ago her wish to stay in her own home for as long as possible. Third, Carin needed to know the local and national resources that may be helpful to her. I connected Carin with the Alzheimer’s Association of Orange County for their support groups and on-line information (www.alz.org/oc). I also helped Carin select a home care agency to provide in home care support for her Mom, which included companionship, meal preparation and medication management. Carin knew staying at home would work until her Mom became more confused and difficult for one caregiver to manage at home. Her plan included moving to a care community when her Mom’s care needs required 24/7 care. For now, Alice needs a caregiver during the day. While she does not need a memory care community today, I helped Carin select the top three care communities within her budget, which she toured and finally selected the one her Mom would transition to when the time was right. I discussed with Carin the “signs” she needs to look for when it would indicate its unsafe for Alice to continue to live in her own home. Identifying situations and looking for signs of when its time to transition from home to a memory care community was very reassuring for Carin.
It is all about planning ahead and not being crisis driven. I encourage you to contact me to discuss creating a plan of care for yourself and your loved one.