Senior Living Business Interactive: Dementia Care: Make Improvements Before The Looming Demand Hits Home

Recognizing the increasing need for memory care and support, senior care providers are focused on building or expanding their facilities and/or converting existing units to provide specialized care. There are good ways and better ways to go about it—and, of course, some ways that don’t work well at all.

The facts and figures associated with Alzheimer’s and the course of dementia as it stands today are pretty grim, according to Carol Long, Principal at Capstone Healthcare Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona. Someone in the United States is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or one of the other dementia conditions every 68 seconds, according to a recently released Alzheimer’s Association report. And while extensive clinical research is underway to determine the cause and speedier ways to diagnose dementia, so far there is no cure or prevention—it is a progressive, terminal condition. Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are now the sixth leading cause of death for all ages and the fifth leading cause of death for people age 65 or older.

The costs related to Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases are staggering. For Medicare and Medicaid alone, the costs (both direct and indirect) amount to more than $200 billion per year, according to the Alzheimer’s Association—costs that are compounded when the person has co-morbid conditions such as diabetes or a heart condition.

Also, people afflicted with a dementia disease or condition may live for as long as 20 years after being diagnosed. There are also countless stories of extreme economic burden and stress for families, noted Long, who is also a registered nurse. While many elderly people with dementia conditions reside in long-term care settings, 15.2 million family and friend caregivers provide 17.4 billion hours of unpaid care to four million people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia condition.

Dementia affects different people differently and progresses on an individually unique timeline. In the mild or early stage of the disease, a person generally shows impaired memory, personality changes, and spatial disorientation. They will forget recent conversations, repeat stories, mislabel items, forget to pay bills, and mismanage medications.

By the time the person moves into the middle or moderate stages of the disease, the confusion, agitation, insomnia, aphasia (difficulty remembering words), and apraxia (the inability to perform tasks or movements) are clearly evident. The person will be confused much of the time, wander aimlessly, rummage through dresser drawers, forget to eat or drink, and experience changes in...............Want to read more? Click here for a free trial to Senior Living Business Interactive  and download the current issue today