Memory Care in Omaha, NE
With the significant increase in those affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, it’s become a major area of focus for healthcare providers, and specifically those specializing in services for our senior population and their caregivers.
According to information sourced from the Alzheimer’s Association, which can be found online at www.alz.org along with much more on the subject, here are some current statistics and important details that are cause for great concern:
- Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. This is more than deaths from breast and prostate cancer combined.
- More than 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s.
- 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia present.
- In 2015, more than 15 million caregivers provided an estimated 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care.
- Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s. By the mid-century mark, that number will be cut in half, with someone in the U.S. projected to develop the disease every 33 seconds.
- In 2016, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $236 billion.
The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease is growing — and growing fast. An estimated 5.4 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.
Of the 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s, an estimated 5.2 million people are age 65 and older, and approximately 200,000 individuals are under age 65 (younger-onset Alzheimer’s). In fact, one in nine people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease.
These numbers will escalate rapidly in coming years, as the baby boom generation has begun to reach age 65 and beyond, the age range of greatest risk of Alzheimer’s. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple, from 5.2 million to a projected 13.8 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent or cure the disease. Previous estimates based on high range projections of population growth provided by the U.S. Census suggest that this number may be as high as 16 million.
Among people age 70, 61 percent of those with Alzheimer’s are expected to die before the age of 80 compared with 30 percent of people without Alzheimer’s — a rate twice as high.
As the population of the United States ages, Alzheimer’s is becoming a more common cause of death. Although deaths from other major causes have decreased significantly in the last decade, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased significantly — 71 percent. In 2013, over 84,000 Americans died from Alzheimer’s according to official death certificates; however, in 2016, an estimated 700,000 people with Alzheimer’s will die, and the disease likely will contribute to many of those deaths.
Alzheimer’s is the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.
In 2015, 15.9 million family and friends provided 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. That care had an estimated economic value of $221.3 billion.
- Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women, and 34 percent are age 65 or older.
- 41 percent of caregivers have a household income of $50,000 or less.
- On average, care contributors lose over $15,000 in annual income as a result of reducing or quitting work to meet the demands of caregiving.
Alzheimer’s takes a devastating toll on caregivers. Nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high; about 40 percent suffer from depression. One in five care contributors cut back on their own doctor visits because of their care responsibilities. And, among caregivers, 74 percent report they are “somewhat” to “very” concerned about maintaining their own health since becoming a caregiver.
Cost to Nation
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the costliest chronic diseases to society, and a growing crisis that is helping to bankrupt Medicare.
- In 2016, total payments for health care, long-term care and hospice are estimated to be $236 billion for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, with just under half of the costs borne by Medicare.
- Medicare and Medicaid are expected to cover $160 billion, or 68 percent, of the total health care and long-term care payments for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
- Nearly one in every five Medicare dollars is spent on people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In 2050, it will be one in every three dollars.
Unless something is done, in 2050, Alzheimer’s is projected to cost more than $1 trillion (in 2016 dollars). Costs to Medicare will increase 360 percent. This dramatic rise includes a nearly five-fold increase in government spending under Medicare and Medicaid and a nearly five-fold increase in out-of-pocket spending.
Financial Impact on Families
Alzheimer’s takes a devastating toll – not just on those with the disease, but on entire families. In total, family caregivers spend more than $5,000 a year on average caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. Because studies on this important topic are scarce, the Alzheimer’s Association commissioned a nationwide scientific survey of more than 3,500 Americans who were asked these questions and more.
Alarmingly, the survey revealed that many care contributors had to cut back on basic necessities — such as food and medical care — for themselves and their families. They are 28 percent more likely than other adults to eat less or go hungry because they cannot afford to pay for food. At the same time, many survey respondents had misconceptions about what expenses Medicare and Medicaid cover, leaving them unprepared to handle the tremendous costs associated with the disease. Taken together, the results of the survey point to the significant financial burden placed on families because their friend or family member with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia can no longer afford to take care of themselves. In light of this, planning ahead by getting financial and legal plans in place is of the utmost importance.
Right here in the Omaha Metro, we are fortunate to have access to a wealth of resources dedicated to assisting those needing memory care and support as well as their families and caregivers.
In closing, awareness and action are both equally important as we move forward into uncharted territory. Lisa Sedlacek-Arp of SilverRidge Assisted Living and Memory Support offers guidance for those in our community who are or will be affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease:
“Three of the most important things with respect to memory care are early detection, education and acceptance. I can’t tell you how many tours I have done at SilverRidge with families who are either in denial of the problem or whose loved ones have been in such a structured environment that they haven’t noticed any issues until taken out of that familiar place. So often guilt is felt by family members or no one wants to come to terms with the fact that there is a problem. If a person does not want to leave the home, get dressed, bathe or even sometimes eat, there is a problem.
It’s common to overlook dementia because a person’s memory is seemingly there, but those in the early stages of dementia have the tendency to come up with ways to mask it or hide it from you. By not leaving the house, showing signs of weight loss, or not taking medication they are giving you signs without even saying a word. In most cases the loved one already knows they have a problem but it is certainly not an easy thing to admit, so it’s up to YOU as a caregiver to educate yourself and stay ahead of the curve. There are plenty of resources online, as well as through the Alzheimer’s Association, at any library, or through your local senior care facilities and organizations. You’ll want to do this sooner rather than later because if you wait too long, it only gets harder to try and persuade that person to cooperate. If your loved one has not been evaluated by a specialist in dementia, I would make an appointment as soon as possible. Talk to your doctor for a referral.
At SilverRidge we can help in many ways, just give us a call. With 15 years of experience with caring for the senior population, we are well-versed in signs of dementia and the Alzheimer’s Association visits quarterly to work and train with our staff to ensure they have the proper skills to take care of folks with dementia. I also have a radio show ‘Aging Matters with Lisa’ on KCRO – 660 AM or 94.5 FM – every Thursday from 4-5 p.m. I have had guests on the show frequently who deal with dementia on a daily basis and representatives from the Alzheimer’s Association who explain warning signs. Early detection and acceptance by everyone involved is key to treatment of this disease that currently has no cure. There ARE ways to continue to have a good quality of life, which is exactly why educating yourself is so important.
Above all, don’t be afraid to ask and don’t be in denial. Don’t just tell yourself I will do it tomorrow or sweep it under the rug. Right now we are preparing for major growth in the population that will be diagnosed with the disease. It does not discriminate. Understanding the symptoms is the first step, and it’s critical to recognize that it is not just memory loss but a host of other things that can surface. Furthermore, being at home is a nice thing but sometimes it is not the right thing for financial, safety and longevity reasons. What if the caregiver passes away? Where does the loved one go in that event? What funds will be available to them? Are they able to make their own life choices still both medically and financially? If they aren’t, who will? Be aware, be informed and be prepared for all possible circumstances. All of these decisions include doctors, lawyers, financial advisors and possibly long-term memory care facilities.”
“All too often, family members wait until they are in a crisis situation or worn down before they decide to ask for help,” adds Michaela Williams, President of Care Consultants for the Aging. “Researching what options are available for those with memory needs can make these decisions much more manageable when that time comes. Figuring out what the government offers, insurances that can be used, and getting legal documents in place will only help when you need to make decisions for someone. It is realistic to need more than one type of service as you go through a caregiving journey Knowing what financial resources are available will help in finding reasonable care options.
Although they may be difficult subjects to broach, as previously noted, it is also important to discuss caregiving and end of life decisions with your loved one before they lose their mental capabilities. Questions to ask may include: If they lose their memory capabilities, would they prefer to move into a facility that specializes in memory care or would they prefer to remain at home where they are more comfortable? What are their thoughts on end of life decisions?”
Specifically regarding caregivers, she further advises, “It is difficult to understand the importance of taking time for yourself when you are so focused on caring for someone else. It is far too common for the caregiver to get ill because they do not take time for themselves. This is true not just for the physical demands of caregiving but also for the mental demands. Home care is a great way to line up breaks as you need them. It can be flexible and be used as often as you need. Caregivers can help with things such as medical cares, personal cares, companionship, meals and light housekeeping.
Since 1991, Care Consultants has helped thousands of seniors live independently. Our home care registry screens and refers caregivers for families to hire. Caregivers can help with medical and non-medical cares and can work from one to twenty four hours a day. As many of our clients are affected by dementia or Alzheimer’s, our caregivers have extensive experience working with those with memory issues while providing assistance to help them to maintain their independence.
Caregiving for a loved one with memory problems can be a long journey. Many find themselves trying a variety of different services to manage both their physical and their mental healthcare needs. It is important to realize that even if you do not need a physical break as a caregiver, respite is still important to your well-being. Care Consultants’ ElderCare Resource Handbook is available in print and can be viewed online at www.careconsultants.com. It provides a complete listing of services available for seniors in the metro area and as such, presents an excellent selection of options for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.”
To end on a positive note, there are so many worldwide working tirelessly towards a common goal, a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and all types of dementias. While those efforts continue, it is comforting to know that we are in good hands with our local resources as far as care and support is concerned. We encourage getting in touch with these professionals sooner rather than later if possible, and you can always reach the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline at (800) 272-3900.