Let’s talk about dementia: End the stigma

Published by Laurie McLendon on

This September marks the eighth World Alzheimer’s Month. Each year at this time, Alzheimer’s associations and other stakeholders around the world come together with the shared goal of raising awareness and ending the stigma associated with dementia. This year’s theme is Let’s talk about dementia: End the stigma.

So, let’s talk about it!

Dementia is a general term for progressive degenerative brain disease which affects memory, thinking, behavior and emotion. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for roughly 50%-75% of all cases. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that roughly 5.8 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s dementia, and that number could reach 14 million by 2050, without effective medical treatment to slow or stop the disease.

Did you know that only 16% of seniors receive regular cognitive assessments for problems with memory or thinking during routine health checkups; compared to regular screenings or preventive services for other health factors such as blood pressure (91%); hearing or vision checks( 73%), and diabetes (66 %). This astounding difference is why it is crucial for dementia awareness.

It is important to remember that dementia is not a part of normal aging. Symptoms may include loss of memory, confusion or difficulty in performing previously routine tasks and personality and mood changes.

Not only does dementia directly impact those living with the disease, but also their family, caregivers, as well as our economy. The CDC reports that 15 million Americans provide more than 17 billion hours of “free” care for loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Providing care to a senior, especially one suffering from dementia is extremely demanding. Caregivers often have limited time to take care of themselves ultimately putting themselves at a greater risk for anxiety, depression, and poorer quality of life.

Inlet Coastal Resort understands the toll being a full-time caretaker can have, which is why Respite Care is available in our community. While staying at Inlet Coastal, you, as the caregiver, receive a break and your loved one living with dementia is provided with compassionate care and social and physical programs designed to keep them engaged, happy and healthy. If you are a caregiver, you can check with your state’s Office for Aging Services to inquire about Respite Voucher Programs. For example, South Carolina Respite Coalition awards vouchers in the amount of $500 to eligible family caregivers, to be used, for example, to pay an in-home agency, an Adult Day Center, or a private individual to provide respite.

In addition to providing Respite Care, Inlet Coastal also offers long term care to seniors who have been diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer’s or other memory-related challenges. Residents live in a carefully designed secure but home-like wing and are provided with 24-hour access care. Our team understands the importance of balancing a daily routine and offering activities that build confidence, improve self- esteem and decrease anxiety and confusion.  Residents have access to a full social calendar filled with daily activities such as therapy, music time, fitness class, pet therapy and more. We have revitalized our memory care program to inspire residents with dementia to live their best life.

By talking about dementia and educating family, friends, and caregivers, we can work together to challenge the stigma, normalize language and encourages people to seek help. For more information, you can download the Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017- 2025.