Dementia 101 — reducing your risk

Living and Aging Well: Column by JJ Jordan
Posted 1/8/19

The topic of Alzheimer’s/dementia can be intimidating. However, there are reasons to be very optimistic now that a breakthrough is on the horizon. A National Alzheimer’s Plan was written into law …

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Dementia 101 — reducing your risk

Posted

The topic of Alzheimer’s/dementia can be intimidating. However, there are reasons to be very optimistic now that a breakthrough is on the horizon.

A National Alzheimer’s Plan was written into law in 2011 that calls for a prevention, treatment and cure by 2025. Recent increases in research funding for the National Institute of Health places the nation at $2.3 billion annually in research funds beginning in 2019. New proposed legislation, the BOLD Alzheimer’s Infrastructure Act, has passed the Senate and awaits passage by the House.

The law would provide for Centers of Excellence for Alzheimer’s disease, much like those now in existence for cancer. It would also fund local health departments to enhance their work in early detection and diagnosis, risk reduction and preventable hospitalizations for those with various forms of dementia.

Alzheimer’s now affects over 5.7 million Americans and over 16 million caregivers contribute over 18 billion hours in unpaid care each year. Seventy-four percent of caregivers report being somewhat to very concerned about their own health, creating a huge need for self-care and respite relief.

Understanding the basic facts about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, what to look for in warning signs, ways to reduce risk or delay onset and communication tips that improve interactions with people with dementia are all important factors in making American communication more dementia-friendly. Reducing the stigma surrounding dementia and improving the quality of life for those living with Alzheimer’s disease, vascular, Lewy body, frontotemporal dememtia and other forms of cognitive impairment is critical to acknowledging the public health crisis that is heightened by 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day in the United States.

Age is, in fact, the number one risk factor and we simply must pay attention to dementia as demographics dictate its prominence in our nation. The heartache, cost and health-care implications are huge. When the breakthrough happens, which is hopefully right around the corner, a party for the entire world will be in order and everyone will be invited. In the meantime, let’s bring the topic out of the shadows and educate ourselves about this topical subject!

JJ Jordan is the community chair for Dementia Friendly Denver. For additional information, please contact jjjordanden@gmail.com. To learn more, please attend the upcoming presentation and interactive discussion as noted below.

This column is hosted by the Seniors’ Council of Douglas County. Please join us for our next meeting on Feb. 7, 2019 at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, 9203 S. University Blvd., Highlands Ranch, 80126. Our presentation and community conversation will begin at 10:15 a.m. JJ Jordan will be our guest speaker and will be presenting “The Latest Hopeful Research on Cognitive Health.” She will share communication tips, local resources and the latest hopeful research updates. For more information, go online to MyDougCoSeniorLife.com, email DCSeniorLife@douglas.co.us or call 303-663-7681.

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