Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias9 minute read

9 minute read

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Updated for January, 2019

About 5.2 million people in the U.S. live with dementia. More than 10% of Americans over 65–and 50% of those over 85–have some form of it. One out of three seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. These figures will likely continue to grow as Baby Boomers age–and create an unsettling effect on many of them who long for continued quality of life in their own homes.

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Both dementia and anxiety, in fact, can affect your ability to age in place.

Older adults who have not been formally diagnosed with dementia may fear that they have it–and those who are diagnosed are often terrified. The stigma of dementia can have a devastating effect on anyone’s quality of life, and researchers have begun to uncover links between dementia and anxiety. Both dementia and anxiety, in fact, can affect your ability to age in place.

It may surprise many people to know that dementia is not a normal part of aging. Dementia is a syndrome caused by a variety of brain illnesses that affect memory, thinking, behavior and the ability to perform everyday activities.It is true that memory declines in older adults, but normal memory problems should not affect everyday life. For example, misplacing a pen is very different from forgetting what a pen is used for.

Alzheimer’s Disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, killing more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

  • 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s as of 2018. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to at least 14 million.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, killing more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
  • Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s.
  • 16.1 million Americans provide unpaid care for someone with Alzheimer’s’ or other dementias.
  • In 2017, these caregivers provided an estimated 18.4 billion hours of care valued at over $232 billion.
  • In 2018, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $277 billion.
  • By 2050, these costs could rise as high as $1.1 trillion.
  • Early and accurate diagnosis could save the nation up to $7.9 trillion in medical and care costs.

    Experts concur that Alzheimer’s, like other common chronic conditions, is most likely an effect of complex interactions of factors like genetics, age, lifestyle, environment, and other medical conditions

    Experts concur that Alzheimer’s, like other common chronic conditions, is most likely an effect of complex interactions of factors like genetics, age, lifestyle, environment, and other medical conditions. Factors that can’t be controlled – like age and genetics – can be balanced with lifestyle changes to combat factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Research in these areas suggests that the risk of Alzheimer’s can be identified and reduced. Some autopsy studies have even revealed that as many as 80% of Alzheimer’s patients also have cardiovascular disease. Researchers do not yet know why some people develop hallmark Alzheimer’s plaques and tangles but not any of the disease’s symptoms. Hopefully, more research can clarify the link between and Alzheimer’s and vascular health.

    While experts cannot pinpoint why some patients get dementia, the benefits of a heart-healthy wellness plan should not be ignored. This means regular exercise, reducing sugar and saturated fats. and filling your diet with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Many studies suggest that keeping your brain and social life active may reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Social and mental stimulation is thought to strengthen connections between the brain’s nerve cells in the brain, as do consistent sleep patterns.

    Still other studies show a strong link between Alzheimer’s and significant head trauma, particularly when the patient has lost consciousness. Wearing helmets and seat belts when appropriate, as well as making changes on your property to reduce the risk of falls, are easy steps to manage risk. While you can’t absolutely know your degree of risk for Alzheimer’s or other dementias, anything you do to promote both brain health and overall health go a long way in improving your quality of life and maintaining normalcy.

    You may not be able to cure the problem, but arming yourself with information can be the best way of living the life you want in the home where you want to stay.

    Sources:

    www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia/types-of-dementia
    www.wsj.com/articles/living-well-even-with-alzheimers-1509716816
    www.apa.org/helpcenter/living-with-dementia.aspx
    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4032087/
    www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dementia/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352019