Aging/Gerontology, Health Conditions/Diseases

Normalizing Dementia

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

AD or Alzheimer’s Disease, a form of Dementia, the one that society fears the most. It robs a person of their memory, their thoughts, their ability to function. It can be a very slow moving disease or it can move quickly. The symptoms start slowly and can begin when one is in their 40′s. This is worth reading from Joanne Cave as it describes her visit home for the holidays and what she saw:

“The symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s are complex and not restricted to memory loss. My mom sometimes struggles to solve simple problems, rationalize situations, plan sequences of time, participate in social settings without anxiety or confusion and find appropriate words to complete sentences. On multiple occasions, she has gotten lost in public places, or doesn’t remember where she is or why she went there. Some days, simple daily tasks are near impossible for her to complete independently.”

http://cupwire.ca/articles/54002 for the full story.

This is certainly one disease that needs more education, more attention, more research and more funding.

In Canada, currently, there are approximately 750,000 with some form of dementia and by 2031 the numbers will double to 1.5 million.

In the U.S. currently more than 5 million are diagnosed with dementia. By 2050 that number will double.

Now, fast forward about 10 years when the Baby-Boomers who are currently 65 become 75. The statistics state that after age 65 the risk of developing the disease doubles every five years.

The youngest Baby-Boomer is 46 and the oldest is 66 (those born between 1946-1964).

That is a large segment of the population who are aging and services are not in place for this demographic.

There is stigma associated with the disease. It is not contagious and yet society fears it. Many do not know the symptoms, are afraid to seek medical assistance and contribute the memory loss to normal signs of aging.

The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada has launched a campaign: ‘See me NOT my Disease’ to raise awareness. Mary Schulz of the Alzheimer Society of Canada states:

“The only way to defeat the stigma surrounding dementia is for people with the condition, their family members and friends to stand up and say there is no shame in having the disease.”

Resources:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2013/01/03/alzheimer-stigma.html

http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/basics/mental-illness/dementia.htm

http://cupwire.ca/articles/54002

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post%E2%80%93World_War_II_baby_boom

* First posted at: http://www.socialjusticesolutions.org/2013/01/05/normalizing-dementia/

3 thoughts on “Normalizing Dementia”

  1. It’s sad to have one own family member suffering from AD.My father once a renowed professor and scienst is suffering from disease. My mother died last year but he was unknown to situation.It’s heart breaking to see it. Hope one day there will be complete care medicine for it. JY

  2. My ex-husband was diagnosed with Frontal Temporal Dementia in his 40’s. Different than Alzheimer, it affects adults in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. He has led a crusade to educate the healthcare professionals about FTD and to blog about the disease, it’s impact on the pt, the caregivers, as well as his feelings and experiences related to living with this disease. We as a society are completely unprepared to meet the healthcare needs of the aging baby boomers; and, dementia behind cancer and heart disease, is leading the pact on impacting this generation healthcare needs the most. It is heart breaking to watch vibrant people be robbed of life, memory and hope for the future.

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