Alzheimer’s Disease: A National Crisis That Requires Community Support

The good news for America’s baby boomers is that they’re living longer. In fact, the 65+ demographic will more than double over the next 40 years, according to recent reports. With longevity on the rise, also comes a rise in those with Alzheimer’s Disease, unfortunately.

According to The Alzheimer’s Association, “one in three seniors dies with that disease or another dementia; someone develops the disease every 65 seconds in this country; and while 5.7 million people are living with Alzheimer’s today, that number is projected to rise to almost 14 million by 2050.”

As news of the surge in Alzheimer’s and dementia-related illnesses sinks in, one thing is clear: specialized, compassionate care close to home is critical.

“Adults with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related illnesses often require around the clock care,” says Allen Brown, Executive Director of The Nathaniel Witherell. “The dynamics of these illnesses require support from experienced clinicians to enhance quality of life.”

While some may try to keep their loved ones at home, the strain of constant caregiving is challenging. “There can be guilt around placing someone in a long term care facility,” notes Brown. “But the benefits are numerous. When you know your loved one is comfortable and safe, and not far from home, it offers great peace of mind.”

The Nathaniel Witherell’s Memory Care Unit was created to meet the growing demand for care right in the community. Located on the third floor of the Witherell’s newly renovated facility, The Memory Care Unit is a dedicated space, separated from its skilled nursing and short-term rehabilitation units. This secure yet open setting gives residents distinct living and dining areas, as well as areas to enjoy therapeutic programming.

A hallmark of The Witherell’s Memory Care Unit is its individualized approach to care.

“We create a unique care plan for each resident,” notes Brown. “This includes daily medical and personal needs, as well as preferences for things like mealtime and recreation.” The Witherell’s goal is to keep residents engaged and stimulated, and regular programs include music, art, and pet therapy.

Families are also an important part of the mix. “We engage family members in care planning and encourage them to visit often and get involved in our many events, like our weekly summer barbecues,” says Allen Brown. “Making the adjustment to an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis is something that impacts the entire family.”

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