The responsibility of caring for a loved one with dementia can often feel like a solitary journey, until one day into the process you have an epiphany: You are not alone. I was surprised to discover this in an empirical way as I sought out resources for my mom two years ago.
It seemed that everyone I spoke to, from the local police sergeant to the elder law attorney, inevitably said, “Yeah, my mom [or my dad] has dementia.” It was helpful to hear, not in a misery-loves-company way, but because it normalized a situation that did not feel “normal” (whatever that is).
The Alzheimer’s Association’s 2013 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report paints a broad picture of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. Its numbers provide a larger context for what you may be experiencing in your own personal, daily situation with your loved one. They support the fact that you are not alone.
Dementia is an umbrella term for cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia (it accounts for approximately 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases). According to the report, 5.2 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease in 2013. Interestingly, Alzheimer’s disease is often under diagnosed, so only half of the estimated 5.2 million people may even know they have it.
Other illuminating facts mentioned in Facts and Figures include:
National estimates say that 13.9 percent of people 71 and over in the United States currently have some form of dementia.
The annual number of new cases of Alzheimer’s and other dementia’s is projected to double by 2050 due to the increase in people age 65 and older in the United States.
Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.
By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is projected to jump from 5 million to 13.8 million.
In the state of Florida, the number of people with Alzheimer’s is projected to jump by 64 percent, from 360,000 in 2000 to 590, 000 in 2025.
Someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s every 68 seconds; by 2050, the frequency will be every 33 seconds.
So on the days when you feel alone, frustrated or exhausted as a family member, take some solace in the softer side of what these national numbers reveal: That you are not alone. The sunnier side of the upward trend in dementia is that the resources available to you as a caregiver are also increasing.
Read the Facts and Figures report to put things in perspective. Proactively seek out a caregiver support group in your area. Or give us a call here at The Peninsula if we can answer any questions specific to your situation. The Peninsula offers support groups which may be very beneficial.