According to the Alzheimer’s Association, someone in the US develops Alzheimer’s disease every 65 seconds. It’s a startling statistic. And yet, despite the fact that one in 10 Americans age 65 and older has been diagnosed with this progressive brain disorder, Alzheimer’s is still a difficult, sensitive topic for many. Unfortunately, this hushed approach to a medical condition does more harm than good and perpetuates the stereotype that Alzheimer’s is somehow shameful. At Syncare Memory Suites, a specialized private memory care home in Minnesota, we understand better than anyone that challenging the stigma of Alzheimer’s is critical to changing how those who have been diagnosed are treated. Here’s why.
Around the turn of the last century, dementia itself was considered a condition of aging, and the notion of a confused, forgetful, doddering senior become a cruel stereotype. It wasn’t until 1910 that Alzheimer’s disease was named, and it would take another 60 years before we understood that it was the disease that caused the dementia. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia does increase as we age, but to assume that this progressive brain disorder is a normal part of the aging process is ignorant at best.
Properly recognizing and understanding the facts about Alzheimer’s is an important first step. And with diagnoses of Alzheimer’s expected to reach 14 million by 2050, it’s critical that we develop systems to support these people — our loved ones, neighbors, and friends. That begins with speaking openly and frankly about the conditions of Alzheimer’s, and remembering and respecting the person — not the disease. Here are a few simple reminders:
– Avoid speaking about your loved one as though they weren’t there
– Don’t describe people with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis as a patient or victim
– Give your loved one time and space to find the right word or share their thoughts — they may be slower than they once were, but rushing to aid them can rob them of their sense of self
– Remember, always, that your loved one still has thoughts, feelings, interests, and considerations — it’s easy to begin viewing them solely as care burdens, but that’s unfair to you both
– Remember that words have power, and approaching every day with positivity and gratitude goes so far
We invite you to learn more about care options for your loved one with Alzheimer’s, and what can be done to fully support and empower them. Contact us today to learn more about our specialized memory care home in Minnesota.