Tuesday, January 29, 2019
This may surprise you, but it summarizes the impact Dementia may have on our families: we believe that more than 9 million Americans live with some form of Dementia today. Moreover, although the scientific community is attempting to shed additional light on the numbers, Alzheimer's-type Dementia alone is currently considered to represent more than half of the cases.* Even more shocking, according to the World Health Organization, when all forms of Dementia are combined, they are globally thought to be the 3rd leading cause of death, behind heart disease and stroke in high-income countries.*
Did you know? Dementia is not a disease. It is the umbrella term we apply to those cognitive diseases, e.g., Alzheimer’s, Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body, Frontotemporal and other conditions that can cause Dementia, which is the progressive loss of two or more basic brain functions and the accompanying activities of daily living. Yet, how you outwardly express Dementia is unique to you. People living with Dementia are still whole human beings and can experience joy, sadness, creative expression and much more.
Some would say that the number of deaths attributable to Dementia is significantly underreported due to the stigma associated with the various diseases, lack of education, or other coexisting health issues that can often occur at the end of your life. No matter what the numbers are, Dementia is costly in every way possible, both financially and emotionally.
Rich or poor, or somewhere in-between, you can die prematurely just because of Dementia. Alzheimer's disease, along with many other causes of progressive Dementia, cross cultural and socioeconomic divides. Today there are no cures or effective long-term treatments for almost all forms of Dementia.
However, you can get great satisfaction, and increased inner strength and sense of well-being in caring for someone living with Dementia, but it is still not easy. Even professional caregivers who are paid to give a helping hand, and assist those living with Dementia, experience occasional burnout. Person-centered care, and going further if possible to person-directed care, requires that we always treat individuals uniquely, with respect, and with dignity to the end of their lives. These are just a few of the keys to an optimal quality of life and the best possible tomorrows.
*Sources: see www.dementiasociety.org/home
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