How to Prepare for the Alzheimer’s “Epidemic”

More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s—a number expected reach nearly 14 million by 2050, according to a recent government study published in the Journal of Neurology.

With families providing nearly 80 percent of care, the stress and expense of caregiving can be a major burden. The study estimates the cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s will place a significant strain on the nation’s medical system, topping $1 trillion annually by mid-century.

It’s a sobering trend and a real-life struggle for individuals and families trying to cope with the devastating disease that robs memory, debilitates and destroys the body’s ability to fight infection. Already, Alzheimer’s is now the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.

If your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s, if you suspect the diagnosis or if you just want to be better prepared, the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) recommends these ways to educate yourself:

  • Locate classes that give an overview of the disease.
  • Become aware of resources for diagnosis and treatment.
  • Familiarize yourself with local support systems that give family respite.
  • Understand legal tools you’ll need to take over decision-making when necessary.
  • Consult with a professional geriatric care manager (GCM) who can be a coach, care planner and local resource.
  • Learn about entitlements that could assist with covering care expenses.
  • Explore means to communicate with someone who has dementia, to reduce anxiety and stress.

In southern New England, the Alzheimer’s Association chapter for Massachusetts and New Hampshire provides a wealth of educational programs, resources, support groups, publications and advocacy activities.

In addition, NAPGCM’s New England chapter website includes a directory of GCM’s in the six-state region and other resources for caregivers.

President of Deborah Fins Associates, PC, since 1995, Deborah Liss Fins is a licensed independent clinical social worker and certified geriatric care manager. Drawing on more than 30 years of professional experience in geriatric care management, DFA offers comprehensive assessments and planning, guidance in selecting appropriate care, help identifying resources for financial support and professional consulting. Please contact us to set up a complimentary initial telephone consultation.

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