National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month
November 15, 2018
by Becky Deo
November 2018 marks the 35th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan designating November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. Eleven years later, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He passed away in 2004 due to complications of the disease.
In 1983, fewer than 2 million Americans age 65 and older had Alzheimer’s. Today, the number is almost 6 million and another 200,000 people under the age of 65. Alzheimer’s disease has mercy on no one, affecting people from all walks of life. It seems that dementia has three consistencies.
- It is a horrible disease and experience. Alzheimer’s attacks and kills the brain and while a person’s body might be healthy, his or her brain doesn’t allow the individual to remember how their body functions.
- We are not finding solutions to cure and prevent Alzheimer’s disease fast enough, although research funds and numbers of researchers have increased through the years.
- Alzheimer’s disease is harder than any other disease emotionally and physically for families or other unpaid caregivers. More than one out of three Alzheimer’s caregivers report their health has declined due to care responsibilities, compared with one out of five caregivers of other older adults.
The Alzheimer’s Association reports that in the first half of the 20th century, most people with dementia were cared for in state mental hospitals or asylums, accounting for 45 percent of all admissions in 1946. In 1955, elderly people with cognitive diagnoses moved into nursing homes, many of which lacked positive aesthetics and were comprised of identical long corridors with little or no artwork, highly reflective floors, and rooms with homogeneous bedspreads and curtains.
The first specialized nursing home setting for people with dementia was created in Philadelphia in the mid-1970s—the Weiss Pavilion. Rather than the normal stark, skilled nursing ward-type atmosphere, only 40 people with dementia lived in a home-like setting with an open floor plan and bedrooms placed around a large open pavilion. As researchers observed, they learned that this environment resulted in increased engagement in associate-led activities, decreased negative behaviors, increased amount and range of ambulation, and increased spontaneous interactions by the residents.
The primary focus for caring with people with Alzheimer’s remains and always has been their safety, but this was the first instance of a community working toward the current “people-centered” philosophy of care. It is built around the needs of the person and contingent upon knowing the unique individual through an interpersonal relationship. Memory Care communities, which were called “Special Care Units” at the time, began to include softer, more domestic finishes and lighting, private resident bedrooms, and common dens, living rooms and kitchens.
Today, Sagora Senior Living’s Memory Care communities look at each dementia resident as an individual; associates spend time getting to know them, so their care is much more personalized and appropriate. Residents and their loved ones are encouraged to surround the resident with familiar items. To assist in wayfinding, special shadowboxes filled with fond reminders of a resident’s life are created and placed outside the person’s door. This also helps associates and visitors know more about each resident with dementia.
This shift in focus away from the traditional biomedical model in favor of embracing personal choice and autonomy is beneficial for residents, their loved ones and the associates that care for them. Knowing the person living with dementia and accepting his or her reality leads to effective and empathetic communication, which in turn leads to ongoing opportunities for meaningful engagement.
The more comfortable and engaged a person with Alzheimer’s is, the more likely loved ones are to trust associates of a Memory Care community. And the more likely loved ones are to let go of their stress and feelings of guilt and obligation, which leads to a healthier lifestyle for them. Sagora’s Memory Care communities offer respite care services, which allow a person with dementia to live in the community for a few days or more, to see if it is a positive next step for him or her. This also is an opportunity for caregivers to take time for themselves, knowing their loved one is being cared for in a nurturing environment.
We thank President Reagan for bringing much needed attention to Alzheimer’s disease. And we thank the Alzheimer’s Association for all it does to support caregivers, search for a cure, educate the public, and so much more. The Association offers a 24/7 Helpline: 800.272.3900, where you can speak with a live, qualified person that is available to help caregivers and family members through a challenging situation, or to answer your questions about Alzheimer’s disease.
Sagora Senior Living Memory Care Communities
Sagora Memory Care Communities offer compassionate, person-centered care to people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Our communities also offer respite care, when available.
The Brennity at Daphne, AL: 251.626.9000
Ansel Park, Rocklin, CA: 916.250.0770
The Brennity at Melbourne, FL: 321.253.7440
The Brennity at Tradition, Port St. Lucie, FL: 772.345.2700
The Brennity at Vero Beach, FL: 772.299.7900
The Veraden, Edmond, OK: 405.359.1230
Aberdeen Memory Care of Tulsa, OK: 918.591.2525
Bellarose, Tulsa, OK: 918.355.0151
Lyndale Abilene Memory Care, TX: 325.400.7760
Heritage Place Assisted Living, Burleson, TX: 817.568.1000
Briarview, Carrollton, TX: 972.418.1400
Ellery Arbor Memory Care, Colleyville, TX: 817.500.5006
The Viera, Corpus Christi, TX: 361.392.4000
Mirabella, Fort Worth, TX: 817.763.0088
The Westmore, Fort Worth, TX: 817.731.7600
Waterview The Cove, Granbury, TX: 817.573.3434
Caydance, Katy, TX: 281.371.3000
Landon Ridge Kingwood, TX: 281.312.4400
Lynridge, Murphy, TX: 972.382.7888
Rio Terra, New Braunfels, TX: 830.221.4800
Adante Assisted Living, San Antonio, TX: 210.493.0103
Landon Ridge Alamo Ranch, San Antonio, TX: 210.816.4700
Landon Ridge Sugar Land, TX: 832.857.0900
The Heritage Tomball, TX: 281.401.5400
Written by Becky Deo
November 15, 2018