It’s Time to Talk about Memory Loss During Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

A recent Census Bureau report revealed that Ohio and a handful of other states are on track to have more residents age 60 and older by 2020 than people under age 20. That switch has already occurred in several Northeast Ohio counties, including Cuyahoga County, and will include the rest of Northeast Ohio counties by 2020.

This is a startling trend because as populations age, care needs increase dramatically. Whether care is provided at home by family and friends or in a community setting, the quality of that care is critical. And for persons with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, their care takes on additional challenges.

We also know that the stigma associated with dementia often keeps families who observe cognitive changes in their loved ones from consulting with a doctor.

In the United States, at least half of older adults living with dementia do not have a diagnosis. Their cognitive impairment may not have been detected, and some older adults whose physician recommends that they obtain a diagnostic evaluation do not follow through on the recommendation, according to an article in the February 2018 issue of The Gerontologist, focusing on one of the Alzheimer’s Association’s 10 dementia care practice recommendations.

The article goes on to state, “Initiatives to increase detection of cognitive impairment and diagnosis of dementia have focused primarily on physician practices and public information programs to raise awareness about the importance of detection and diagnosis.” However, non-physician care providers who work in senior housing and assisted living communities interact frequently with older adults with cognitive impairment but who have not had a diagnostic evaluation.

The Alzheimer’s Association maintains that a person-centered focus is at the core of quality care. Judson’s memory support program is accredited by Comfort Matters®, a practice that was developed at the Beatitudes Campus in Arizona, through more than a decade of research around person-centered health care practices. It also incorporates the latest science on supporting people who live with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Comfort Matters® offers a holistic and integrated approach to improve quality of care and the quality of life for persons with dementia. The first step in designing a care plan that is unique to each individual is to understand the totality of each person.

How can non-physician healthcare care providers kick-start the cognition conversation? Here are a few ways:

  • Make information about brain health available to families
  • Know the signs and symptoms of cognitive impairment, realizing these don’t necessarily indicate a dementia diagnosis
  • Encourage older adults to follow through if their doctor has recommended a diagnostic evaluation
  • Support a better understanding of a dementia diagnosis

This June – Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month – the Alzheimer’s Association wants families to know it’s Time to Talk about memory loss and other potential warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. We urge everyone to come together and join the fight against Alzheimer’s.

We applaud Judson for embracing person-centered care and for its support of the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association.

No family should face Alzheimer’s alone. For free information at any stage of the journey, call the Alzheimer’s Association’s Helpline 24/7 at 800.272.3900 or visit https://www.alz.org/cleveland

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