Planning for more dementia patients as boomers age

    The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 10 million baby boomers will suffer from the disease in coming years. To get ready, the federal government is preparing a national plan to coordinate research and health care efforts.

    Family members and patients are gathering at listening sessions this week to talk about what should go into the plan.

    Robert Marino is a board member of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. He says dementia strains whole families.

    “This is a disease of the caregiver as much as any disease I can think of. What we are hearing several times over is that this national plan needs to focus on the family care giver, focus on helping the caregiver with resources outreach and education,” he said.

    Patient advocates also want rule changes to get services for people diagnosed with dementia in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. These younger-onset patients often lose their ability to work but are sometimes don’t qualify for traditional senior services.

    As we age, our risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s increases, and the first wave of baby boomers turned 65 this year.

    Claire Day, with the Alzheimer’s Association, wants better training for health workers.

    “If someone with a health care background doesn’t understand the disease, doesn’t understand that this is a physical change that happens in the brain–because sometimes there can be aggression–if they don’t understand that, it can be taken very personally by care aides,” Day said.

    Day says it’s different helping with bathing or dressing changes when you are dealing with an Alzheimer’s patient versus what’s needed for someone with say diabetes or high blood pressure.

    There’s a New Jersey listening session from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tues, Aug 23 at the University of Medicine and Dentistry.

    Delaware’s meeting is at the same time on Aug. 24 at the Ammon education center at Christiana Hospital.

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