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Why Dementia Is Becoming a Public Affair

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month – the ideal time to recommit ourselves to combating Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, while providing the best possible care and support to loved ones living with the disease.

Alzheimer’s continues to be one of the leading causes of death and declining quality of life for senior adults in America and around the world. And with increased awareness and publicity about the disease, including stories of famous people’s struggles with Alzheimer’s, it has become a very public affair and part of our daily social conscience.

A Growing Public Health Challenge Is Now a Very Public Affair

Says LaMia Johnson, MHA, BBA, Administrator at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr located in Bryn Mawr, PA, “Today, cognitive decline due to progressive brain disease is a public health issue affecting 47.5 million people worldwide – with 7.7 million new cases diagnosed every year. It is the fifth leading cause of death for those over 65.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of older Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease – the most common form of dementia – will more than double in the next 40 years, bringing the total number of Americans with this disease to 14 million. More specifically, one in six women and one in 10 men over the age of 55 are expected to develop some form of dementia.

“However, the positive news is that with greater funding, more focused medical research, greater public awareness and earlier detection, the lives of those living with dementia can be improved significantly. And today, as increasing numbers of well-known people are going public with their dementia stories, it has encouraged others to come out of the shadows to embrace the challenge, become more knowledgeable about the disease and provide more enlightened care for their loved ones.”  

How Public Awareness Is Aiding the Fight Against Dementia

As noted in the New York Times article, Dementia Is Getting Some Very Public Faces,” “Stigma often prevents patients from acknowledging an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. A series of high-profile disclosures may help change that.”

For example, since 1994 when former President Ronald Regan and First Lady Nancy Reagan released a handwritten letter disclosing his Alzheimer’s disease, many other public figures have stepped forward and shared their own personal accounts of living with dementia. They include award-winning singer and song writer Glenn Campbell, University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt and the family of actor Gene Wilder.

Just this past year, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor retired from public life, announcing that she had dementia and stating, “As this condition has progressed, I am no longer able to participate in public life. I want to be open about these changes, and while I am still able, share some personal thoughts.”

As Shana Stites, a clinical psychologist and researcher at the Penn Memory Center, states, “Openness about dementia, instead of hiding it, could lead to earlier diagnoses.” 

This, in turn, can benefit caregivers and their loved ones with dementia in several ways.

Stites adds, “A diagnosis explains what’s happening, why you’re not remembering, why you’re behaving this way. As dreaded as that news may be, patients and those around them sometimes feel relieved when their problems acquire a name and a medical label.”

Additionally, Beth Kallmyer, Vice President of Care and Support at the Alzheimer’s Association®, says denial and secrecy regarding a diagnosis of dementia “takes away the opportunity for the family to get prepared, for the person and the family to educate themselves.” 

LaMia concludes, “Clearly, openness and acceptance without fear or shame can be beneficial to everyone involved. Join with us at Impressions Memory Care as we recognize Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month and redouble our efforts to improve the daily lives of loved ones with dementia – making every day purposeful and engaging.”

You can find complete information on the fight against dementia, as well as useful guidance for caregivers at  https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving.

At Impressions, we offer more to life. We want our residents to enjoy Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments. We provide a variety of services, amenities and features that help residents live not only with safety, security and support, but also with involvement and fulfillment in our vibrant, secure community.

We encourage you to contact us with any questions you have on dementia care or to schedule a tour. Also, we invite you to read our timely blog articles on current caregiver and dementia care topics posted on our website.

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, “Why Dementia Is Becoming a Public Affair,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences in our comments section.

Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments.

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comfort of home. Our memory care community touches hearts and changes lives.

Helping Families Be “Family” Again.

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.

If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.

If and when the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again. 

For more information, please call LaMia at 484.386.6323 or contact us online. 

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.