Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia affect 35.7 million people around the world, a number that is projected to triple by 2050. These numbers are staggering and compounded by the fact that less than one in four people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia are formally diagnosed. Without a diagnosis, many do not receive the proper care, treatment or support from medical professionals, friends or family.
Alzheimer’s is a devastating condition that can impact memory, communication, reasoning, judgment and other cognitive processes; it is the most common form of dementia. Currently one in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another type dementia; while other conditions saw a decrease in death rate from 2000 to 2010, the rate for dementia increased, and will only continue to rise. Further, spending related to Alzheimer’s and dementia research and care also continues to increase. The estimated global cost of dementia in 2010 was $604 billion, or 1% of the world GDP. Clearly, Alzheimer’s has a crippling effect on the global population, especially with no known cure.
I am affiliated with a Utah at-home care (aka live-in care) company called Home Care Assistance (HCA). HCA provides assisted-living care for people needing help with activities of daily living (ADLs) and, as a consequence, "respite" for the sons and daughters who otherwise try to be their parents' sole caregivers. The sons and daughters soon learn that being a parent's caregiver is a heavy load which impacts the caregiver's work schedule and personal time. Perhaps just as impacting, is the fact that the caregiver's time for visiting with mom/dad in a relaxed "visiting" environment is replaced with bathing, meal preparation and clean-up, errands, doctor's appointments, and transfers to/from beds, chairs, bathroom, etc.. On top of that, when mom/dad have a significant dementia-induced change in personality and disposition, those caregiving tasks are often provided with no gratitude or appreciation in return. The whole situation can be wearing and tiring on the caregiver.
With over 40 percent of Home Care Assistance clients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, HCA saw the need for services and resources that not only address the unique needs of dementia patients but also help delay the progression of the disease. In doing so, these services would enhance the quality of life of the men and women living with some form of dementia (and that of their loved ones).
Based on scientifically-supported best practices in dementia care and spearheaded by a team of neuropsychologists and researchers, Home Care Assistance created Dementia Therapeutics, an in-home, non-pharmacological intervention program developed for individuals with the neurocognitive deficits that result from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The program consists of a uniquely tailored intervention plan that accounts for the client’s history, weaknesses, needs, personal preferences and goals. Thoroughly trained caregivers use among 300 research-based interventions which target both cognitive and non-cognitive domains. These interventions may delay the onset of more severe symptoms by as many as 5 to 10 years for individuals with mild cognitive impairment.
Having a professional caregiver in the home is beneficial to both the client and the client’s family. Family members can take a break from their hectic caregiving schedules to relax and recharge, knowing that their loved one is receiving the highest-quality care available while the individual with dementia benefits from the familiarity of home.
While Home Care Assistance is revolutionizing Alzheimer’s and dementia care in the home, scientists are racing to find a cure for this disease and are getting closer by the day. With significant advances being made in the medical and technological fields, it’s an exciting time to be involved in dementia care and improving quality of life for older adults across North America.
If you would like to know more about HCA's caregiving services and, specifically, its Dementia Therapeutics intervention program, call me at (801) 706-2068 and I'll arrange an introduction to an HCA representative who can provide you with further information.