Americans are living longer and therefore the rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease continue to be on the rise among seniors. Experts said if you’re visiting your older relatives for the holidays this year, you may want to look out for some warning signs.
We found out there are plenty of options to ensure everyone is properly cared for should difficulties arise.
Robin Bennett treasures every moment she has with her dad, 93-year-old Cliff. Cliff has dementia and was moved into Loretto’s new Borer Community on the Nottingham campus in May.
“His progression of his memory loss, has been a slow, steady decline over the last probably 10 years, but more noticeably in the last three years we noticed a significant change,” said Bennett.
Cliff, a long time insurance agent and Army veteran, was married to his wife Ruth for 70 years. Ruth was Cliff’s primary caregiver at home, but when she passed in April, Robin and her sister Susan knew they needed another option for their dad.
“Within three weeks to a month, we knew that we had to put dad in a safer place. We kept them together, and at that point we decided to bring him here to the memory care unit,” said Bennett.
The facility is operated by Loretto, which also runs PACE CNY. PACE services include everything from in-home care and day care to rehab programs. PACE medical director Doctor David Heisig said the holidays can be a common time for children to notice changes in their older parents while visiting.
“Are things being put away in the wrong places? The car keys are in the refrigerator, the milk is sitting on the counter,” said Heisig.
Heisig said the issue may be minor, but if issues are reoccurring, there are solutions available to help.
“The key is to get a multi-disciplinary team, in to see what needs to be done and what should be offered. Somebody with mild dementia, may simply need reminders and help in their own home. Somebody with severe, crippling dementia, might be able to be managed at home, if there’s enough family, and caregivers able to do that, or they actually may need to be placed in a skilled nursing facility,” said Heisig.
And that facility and its services could make all the difference in providing the care needed for an enjoyable end of the road for guys like Cliff.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 6.2 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's disease which is the most common form of dementia. And as the population of Americans aged 65 and up continues to increase, that number is expected to double by 2050.