This article is part of a project of the local Community Health Improvement Council (CHIC). CHICs were created statewide in conjunction with the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) with the goal of getting local citizens and county governments more involved in the manner in which health might be improved in each of their communities. The local CHIC is conducting an on-going awareness campaign address all the areas that can potentially affect a person’s health. October has been designated by the CHIC as the month to bring awareness to Alzheimer’s Disease.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
It is a form of dementia and is the leading type of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior; nor is it a normal part of aging. Alzheimer’s gets worse over time. Although symptoms can vary widely, the first problem many people notice is forgetfulness severe enough to affect their ability to function at home or at work, or to enjoy lifelong hobbies. The disease may cause a person to become confused, lost in familiar places, misplace things or have trouble with language. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that is eventually fatal.
Who Does it Affect?
The Alzheimer’s Association 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report reveals that there are more than five million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease. As the baby boomers age, the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is projected to reach many as 16 million 2050. In New Mexico, this epidemic will hit us particularly hard, since the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s is age. By 2030 New Mexico will rank 4th nationally in the percent of population over the age of 65; up from 37th in 2000, with those over the age of 85 identified as the fastest-growing population segment.
There is a perception that people with Alzheimer’s are primarily cared for in assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, but in fact, 80% of individuals with the disease are cared for in their homes by family and loved-ones. Nationally, these unpaid caregivers provide 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care in 2013, in New Mexico alone, that number was 120 million hours. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be very stressful and demanding. Fifty-nine percent of family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s rate their emotional stress as “high” or “very high,” and almost 40% report symptoms of depression.
What Does Alzheimer’s Disease Cost Our Nation?
In addition to the human toll, Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures confirms that Alzheimer’s is the most expensive condition in the nation. The total national cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias in 2014 is $214 billion, not including unpaid caregiving by family and friends valued at $220.2 billion. Nearly one in every five dollars spent by Medicare is on people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
What is the Alzheimer’s Association?
The Alzheimer’s Association, New Mexico Chapter offers services and programs to people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers that can help ease the burden of Alzheimer’s disease, all of which are provided at no charge. Core programs include:
24/7 Helpline 1.800.272.3900
Information and Referral services
Statewide support groups
Caregiver education – including our evidence-based Savvy Caregiver program
In addition, the Chapter offers education to professional caregivers, and works with state and national elected officials to advocate for Alzheimer’s-related programs. To contact the Local NM Chapter please call 505-266-4473. There are also many resources on the website www.alz.org. You can read blogs, have online support groups, and have access to much information to help answer all your questions.
Written by Katie Roper
Director of Marketing and Resource Development
Good Samaritan - Four Corners Village
2014 October 07
KSJE 90.9 FM
The Scott Michlin Morning Program
Link to Good Samaritan