World Alzheimer’s Day, September 21st of each year, is a day on which Alzheimer’s organizations around the world concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a group of disorders that impairs mental functioning.
Every 68 seconds, someone in the worlds develops Alzheimer’s disease. In Australia, more than 353,800 people are living with dementia. This number is expected to increase to 400,000 in less than five years. Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia is expected to be almost 900,000 by 2050.
Three in ten people over the age of 85 and almost one in ten people over 65 have dementia. Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and there is no cure.
Alzheimer’s disease is often called a family disease, because the chronic stress of watching a loved one slowly decline affects everyone. An estimated 1.2 million people are involved in the care of a person with dementia. With the increases in life spans and baby boomers coming of age, support for Alzheimer’s research is more critical to our families than ever.
Involving a palliative care team can be useful in several ways. Palliative care helps treat some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, such as depression, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. The team can also teach you and your family about what might trigger some of the behaviour symptoms and how to avoid them. Teams help with conversations about your needs and concerns. They help you discuss what is important to you, how and where you want to be cared for and what level of care you want when you enter the last stage of Alzheimer’s Disease.
If someone you know has Alzheimer’s or dementia you can find a list of support services for both sufferers and carers at the Alzheimer’s Australia website here.
Or, call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.
Photo credit: flickr.com/Kendra Miller