Dementia is a non-reversible decline in mental function. It is a catchall phrase that encompasses multiple brain disorders that cause both cognitive and physical impairments. Common symptoms include memory loss, personality changes, impaired reasoning and diminished mobility. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, making up about 70% of all dementias.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia carries no prognosis. Although people age 65 and older survive an average of four to eight years after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia, some with Alzheimer’s live as long as 20 years.
Our PLACE serves two populations—the Alzheimer’s/Dementia patient and his or her caregiver. The impact of this disease on both is frequently overwhelming. This is especially true in a community like Tellico Village, since most residents don't have a local family support system.
When diagnosed, patients experience fear, dread, sadness and/or depression.
These individuals see themselves as no longer being able to keep up with their friends, be it on the golf course, at the bridge table, or in volunteer activities.
Daily life gets progressively narrower, until it consists of eating, sleeping, and watching television.
Caregivers are suddenly responsible for a person whose condition is not yet serious enough for a memory care facility, yet who can no longer pursue an active, independent life.
Having lost their helpmates, caregivers are now responsible for all of the household chores, including those their spouse always handled in the past.
In addition, they must do all of the driving, so every time their spouse has an activity or appointment, they must take them, wait for them, and bring them home.
They are increasingly concerned about leaving their spouse alone, so even routine activities such as a haircut, manicure, shopping trip, exercise class, or social outing requires advance planning for which the caregiver must decide whether to arrange for temporary help, forgo an activity, or take his/her mate along. (In the latter case, they must be constantly vigilant to be certain their spouse doesn't wander off.)
More than 40% of family caregivers report high or very high levels of emotional stress.
One of the biggest concerns affecting 74% of caregivers is maintaining their own health.