The Other Side of 50

Learn what you can about Alzheimer’s

By From page OSF4 | January 09, 2014

Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of memory loss. Alzheimer’s kills. If you do not die from it, you will die with it.

Shocking, right?

This is a fact confirmed by the Alzheimer’s Association, the leading nonprofit group providing support and research.

Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, and the fifth-leading cause of death for those ages 65 and older.

Between 2000 and 2010, death from Alzheimer’s increased by 68 percent, while deaths from other diseases have decreased. One in every three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

So what do we do?

We must become informed. Be brain healthy by staying physically active. Physical activity helps maintain blood flow, encouraging new brain cells. Adopt a brain-healthy diet: a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet with dark vegetables and fruits.

Remain socially active. Reduces your stress levels. Stay mentally active with mentally stimulating activities, which strengthen brain cells and the connections between them.

Know the warning signs:

  • Memory changes that disrupt daily life.
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
  • Confusion with time and place.
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
  • New problems with words in speaking and writing.
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
  • Decreased or poor judgment.
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities.
  • Changes in mood and personality.

Have a plan. In 2013, the direct cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s in America will total an estimated $203 billion, including $142 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. Look into your insurance plan coverage. Do you have long-tern care coverage?

Meet with an elder law attorney and know what will be expected of you and the cost should you encounter Alzheimer’s. Have your wishes documented, through a living will or DNR (Do Not Resuscitate order).

Decide who will be responsible for the care giving. In 2012, 15.4 million family and friends provided 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. That care is valued at $216.4 billion.

Look into community resources. NorthBay Healthcare is a nonprofit health care system that established the NorthBay Alzheimer’s Resource Center in 1995 in Vacaville. The center provides information, referral and educational services for Alzheimer’s patients, their families and the citizens of Solano County. The Adult day Center in Vacaville was opened in 2003 to serve people with Alzheimer’s and other related dementias and their caregivers with respite needs.

NorthBay Alzheimer’s programs (NorthBay Alzheimer’s Resource Center and NorthBay Adult Day Center) have operated successfully since 1998. NorthBay Healthcare offers low-cost fees to participants and caregivers. Respite is available for participants with dementia in a social environment, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Education offerings are available for professional caregivers and families. There is also a monthly caregiver support group.

For information about NorthBay’s Adult Day Center and Alzheimer’s programs, call 624-7970 or 624-7971. For more information about Alzheimer’s Disease, visit Alz.org.

Sandy Perez is the manager of NorthBay Healthcare’s Alzheimer’s Services.

Sandy Perez


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