Why did I come into this room. Where did I leave my keys? What is my locker combination? I bet if you ask any person over 65 what their secret concern is, they would say “Alzheimer’s!” Losing our memories is the the most terrible thing most of us can envision, more so than going blind, getting cancer, suffering from ED, or even having a heart attack. When we get older, our memories, our families, and our friends are so important to us.
No One is Safe from Alzheimer’s
According to the Alheimer’s Association: “Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 percent to 80 percent of dementia cases. It is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. [It] has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues.”
In a recent article, Newsmax states: “Some warning signs you should never ignore: If you notice that memory problems are affecting your daily life, or that of a loved one, or perhaps finding ordinary conversation an increasingly difficult struggle you may be experiencing some of the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. More than 5 million Americans have this dreaded disease and according to Harvard Health Report, estimates suggest this number will affect 13.8 million Americans by the year 2050.”
If you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, realize that it is a progressive disease and you could live for twenty years or longer with the disease. There are drugs to slow it’s progression. Most people, however, are concerned how Alzheimer’s would affect their daily lives. WebMD provides some suggestions: “As it gets harder to remember things, you can use a few strategies to help your memory. You may have to try a few different ones before you find what works for you. To start:
- Keep a notebook or smartphone with you to keep track of important information, phone numbers, names, ideas you have, appointments, your address, and directions to your home.
- Put sticky notes around the house with reminders for yourself.
- Label cupboards and drawers with words or pictures that describe their contents.
- Ask a friend or family member to call and remind you of important things you need to do during the day, like taking medication and going to appointments.
- Keep photos of people you see often, and label the photos with their names.
What’s the Best Way to Plan the Day?
- Focus on things you enjoy and are able to do safely on your own.
- Take advantage of the times of the day when you feel best. It will be easier to get things done.
- Allow yourself the time to do what you need to do. Don’t feel like you have to hurry or let other people rush you.
- If something gets too hard, take a break.
- Ask for help if you need it.
Protect your Family – Develop a Financial Strategy!
Alzheimer’s can financially devastate Boomers. Assisted living homes for Alzheimer’s victims typically run $4,00-to-$7,000 monthly! But there is some help available through Medicare (up to 100 days in an assisted living facility). To overcome the limitations of Federal programs, each state typically offers help to Alzheimer’s sufferers and their families. This may include low-cost home care, adult day centers or even nursing home assistance.
The Alzheimer’s Association® can connect you with low-cost or free community support services. Call their 24/7 helpline at 800.272.3900 (TTY: 866.403.3073). Their “Benefits Check-Up” helps you find programs that can help to pay for medications, health care, food, utilities and more:
- Benefits.gov can help you find out which government benefits you may be eligible to receive.
- Department of Veterans Affairs has information on government benefits available to those who served in the military.
- National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information is a government site that helps you plan for long-term care needs and find services.
The Bottom Line for Baby Boomers
The main thing for Baby Boomers to remember (no pun intended) is that some memory loss as we age is natural. So, don’t panic when you can’ remember where you put the car keys. But if you or your spouse has concerns, talk to your doctor to find out what’s going on. And realize that you have time to gather information to make informed decisions. Alzheimer’s take years to become crippling. Moreover, there are a lot of financial aids and free services out there to assist Boomer families, so get help!
Considerable research is being invested in finding a cure or slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s, but it is proving to be a tough nut to crack. Nonetheless, since about 50 million people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer’s, it will continue to receive strong attention. There is hope, my friends.