Dementia in its many forms, including Alzheimer’s disease, is one of the fastest growing, most important issues of our day. It is now affecting millions of families and the numbers are expected to double in the next ten to fifteen years.
Many people believe the rapid increase is due only to the large number of baby boomers entering old age. While they certainly make up a huge number of cases, it is also true that the number of diagnoses of early onset are rapidly rising as well.
Dementia is considered early onset when it occurs in someone under the age of sixty with some cases occurring in adults in their late forties and early fifties. These cases, while not as common, usually progress more rapidly than those occurring in older men and women.
Millennials now in their twenties will have parents in their mid-fifties or older in ten to fifteen years. The very age when dementia begins to take hold.
While we hope for a cure for these devastating brain diseases or at the very least, a lasting and effective treatment, no one can count on that occurring soon. Especially when companies like Pfizer™ cite the lack of progress and huge expense to discontinue research even as the epidemic grows.
This is why it is so important for millennials to begin to think about, and prepare for, what the future may bring for them and their families.
The following four things can be done now at little to no cost:
- Follow caregiving sites on Snapchat and Pinterest.
- Attend caregiving workshops. Memory care facilities often offer free workshops and networking opportunities for people of all ages interested in learning more about dementia.
- Share what you learn with your parents. Ask them to attend the next workshop with you. If they don’t have long term care insurance, encourage them to get it. Look into it for yourself as well. The younger you are when you sign up, the less it will cost and the better coverage you will get.
- If someone in your family has been diagnosed with dementia, spend some time with that person. If you have an old iPod or mp3 player sitting in a drawer somewhere, get it out an upload some music from their time. Let them listen to it though a set of headphones. You may see a side of them you never knew as the music inspires movement and memories they seem to have long forgotten. If they like it you can try sharing some of your favorite music with them creating a special moment for both of you.
It is not too soon to begin to talk about these issues. Ask around, it’s very likely that someone you know has a family member with some form of dementia. You could be the person to help them understand what’s happening and offer support during a very stressful and confusing time.
Bobbi Carducci was a caregiver for her father-in-law with dementia for seven years. She is a caregiver support group leader, blogger, author of the book, Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver, and national speaker on caregiver issues. www.bobbicarducci.com www.theimperfectcaregiver.com Twitter:@BobbiCarducci2 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theimperfectcaregiver/