November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

5.3 Million People in the U.S. Have Alzheimer’s Disease

In New Jersey, Over 449,000 Family Members Care for Someone with Alzheimer’s or Related Dementia

Most everyone knows a loved one of someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia. Our hearts go out to them because it’s a progressive, unpredictable disease. Each individual is different. One of our specialties at Visiting Angels is to care for the personal and in-home care needs of our beloved Alzheimer’s members within our Visiting Angels extended family. We share this information with you in the hopes of helping families understand the nature of Alzheimer’s and what can be expected in certain cases. Some of this information is difficult and painful, but knowledge is a powerful tool.

Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures

  • In the U.S., a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every 69 seconds. Unless medical advances are made, nearly 16 million Americans by 2050 will have Alzheimer’s, with a new diagnoses every 33 seconds
  • In New Jersey, 170,000 people have the disease
  • Symptoms first appear after age 60 in most people
  • Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills; eventually, people lose the ability to perform even the most simple tasks of daily living
  • Early symptoms include difficultly remembering names/recent events, apathy, and depression; later symptoms include impaired judgment, disorientation, confusion, changes in behavior, and trouble speaking, swallowing, and walking
  • Alzheimer’s Disease, the 6th leading cause of death, starts in a region of the brain that affects recent memory, then gradually spreads to other parts of the brain
  • Although treatment and early detection can help to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and help manage its symptoms, currently there is no cure

Caring for an Alzheimer’s Patient

  • In 2015, there were over 449,000 predominantly family caregivers in the U.S., totaling 511,000,000 unpaid care hours—over $6 billion in unpaid care
  • 60% of caregivers are women, 87% are family members
  • 10% of predominantly family caregivers live over 2 hours from the patient (“long-distance caregivers”)
  • 32% of predominantly family caregivers have been caring for over 5 years
  • About 33% of predominantly family caregivers have symptoms of depression. “Caregiver stress” (especially related to dealing with a loved one’s behavioral problems) sometimes leads to nursing home placement because the family caregiver is totally depleted, both physically and emotionally, not necessarily because it’s medically necessary or the best option

Resources

  • Project Lifesaver: Eligible residents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can be provided with tracking bracelets. Mercer County: Mercer County Sheriff’s office (609) 989-6111, (609) 278-7159, (877) 580-5433, or (732) 272-5466. Burlington County: Burlington County Sheriff’s Senior Services Unit, 609-265-5785
  • Call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900 for care consultation, information & referral
  • Alzheimer’s Association Central Regional Office at Princeton, Princeton Junction, NJ  609-275-1180
  • Alzheimer’s Association South Jersey Regional Office, Marlton, NJ  856-797-1212
  • Alzheimer’s Association Website: www.alz.org

To read more about Alzheimer’s Disease, download our Community Resource Bulletin. Resources include: The Stages of Alzheimer’s, Coping with Sundown Syndrome, Alzheimer’s Wordsearch, and Nora de Cárdenas’ article on “Art & Music: Breaking Through the Barriers of Alzheimer’s Disease.”