The Alzheimer’s Association reports that more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Though many people have loved ones who are living with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, or have watched as loved ones died from the disease, only those who have firsthand experience of the condition really know what it is like to live with it on a daily basis.
According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 10 million new diagnoses of dementia annually. This is a staggering statistic, but nothing is quite as overwhelming as when your loved one becomes one of those 10 million. When your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, you suddenly find yourself making many decisions about their current and future care.
Although cancer, heart attacks, and strokes are more common and kill far more people, dementia remains America’s most feared illness. Our memories make us who we are, and losing them is terrifying. But dementia is a slow, progressive illness. Many people live for many years before it affects their ability to function. But even when it does, you are still you. You’ll have good days and bad days, just like always. Building a support network now can help prepare you for what’s ahead. Here’s how to do it.
Our memories make us who we are. They connect us to the past. They allow us to draw on our history with loved ones to connect to them even after they are gone. This is why dementia is so scary. Seniors with dementia envision a life in which they are progressively robbed of all that matters, all that has defined their lives.
Being diagnosed with dementia can be scary. After all, people with advanced dementia can’t tell us what they’re thinking or feeling, and uncertainty breeds fear. The truth is that dementia care has come a long way. People with dementia are living longer, more meaningful lives. A dementia journey does not have to be one of hopelessness and fear. Instead, consider using this time to think about what you want out of your future and the type of support you hope to have as your cognition changes. Art therapy relieves stress, and may even help with the symptoms of dementia. It can also help people with dementia express themselves when their vocabularies begin to fail them.
This blog was published on November 23, 2015 and updated on January 15, 2020.
Dementia can be a terrifying diagnosis, especially when you do not know what to expect. Dementia, however, does not have to be a dark and mysterious force haunting every second of your loved one’s life. There’s still plenty of joy to be found after a dementia diagnosis. Having the right medical information can help you or your loved one plan for the future, choose palliative care options, and pursue the right treatment.
Popular accounts of dementia in the media often fail to capture its sheer brutality. The pain of dementia extends far beyond the person suffering from it, affecting entire families and relationships — often for years and even generations. Whereas popular depictions often present dementia as memory loss or forgetfulness, families facing dementia know that dementia can be much more.
Most people are familiar with the physical challenges that aging presents — aching joints, a higher risk of falls, changing skin. Aging also affects the way people think and learn because the brain shrinks and becomes less adept at mastering new information. This can affect memory, slow thinking, and make it more difficult for a person to master new skills. However, the changes are subtle, and people of all ages experience periodic memory slips and gaps in knowledge. Distinguishing the signs of normal aging versus dementia is critical for healthy aging and planning for the future.
More than 18 percent of Maryland residents are 60 or older. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 3 seniors will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. Seniors who need memory care in Maryland have a number of options. Narrowing down a long list and deciding which choice is right for your family can be challenging — especially if family members disagree about the need for memory care or are skeptical of a senior’s dementia diagnosis. If you’re hoping to transition a senior you love to memory care in Maryland, here’s how to navigate the many hurdles you face and find the perfect fit.