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October 24, 2020
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Navigating the aging journey

Julie Ann Soukoulis
Putting dementia on the agenda
September 25, 2020

At Home Instead, we see older adults affected by dementia every day. Knowing how to care for people living with dementia and providing support for their families is in our DNA. In fact, we even created a memory-care training program for our caregivers. It’s all about caring for individuals with the dignity and respect they deserve, honoring who they were before the disease and keeping them safe and calm in their own homes.

Our commitment doesn’t end there. We not only want to care for those living with dementia, we want to have an impact on identifying treatment and – someday – finding a cure for the disease. Here’s what we’re doing to get there.

Each year the Home Instead network participates in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s. In 2019, we raised nearly $415,000 nationally.  The world may look a little different right now, but one thing hasn’t changed: our commitment to ending Alzheimer’s. This year Walk to End Alzheimer’s is everywhere on October 10, 2020 — on every sidewalk, track and trail.

Your health and safety are our top priorities for the Alzheimer’s walk. This year’s event won’t be a large in-person gathering — instead, we invite you to walk in small teams of friends and family while others in your community do the same. Because we are all still walking and fundraising for the same thing: a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.  To learn more and join in the fun go to: www.act.alz.org

  Home Instead has  partnered with HFC, founded by Seth Rogen and Lauren Miller Rogen to care for families facing the disease, to provide in-home dementia care grants to families in need. Since 2014, we’ve provided 332,050 hours of in-home care to give family caregivers much needed respite.  We have donated and served many hours to families in need right here in our own Sonoma County community.  

 We partner with leading Alzheimer’s and dementia organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association, UsAgainstAlzheimers, Women’s Brain Health Initiative, Alzheimer’s Disease International, Bright Focus Foundation, LEAD Coalition, Dementia Friendly America and others passionate about finding a cure and caring for families impacted by dementia.    We collaborate with global coalitions dedicated to Alzheimer’s and aging to provide insights from the in-home care industry. Some of our partners include, the World Dementia Council, World Economic Forum, Global Coalition on Aging and Milken Institute.

“Home Instead puts an incredible amount of thoughtfulness and compassion into caring for those with dementia and their families.  They are a valuable member of the World Dementia Council and great advocates for people facing the challenge of dementia,” said Lenny Shallcross, Executive Director at the World Dementia Council.

Our founder, Paul Hogan, represents Home Instead as a member of the World Dementia Council.  In December 2018, the council issued its five-year progress report, Defeating dementia: the road to 2025. While I urge you to read the full report, I pulled out five highlights that I hope might spark your interest in joining us as advocates to fight this disease.

 

1. Today, there are 50 million people in the world living with dementia and that number is on course to triple by 2050. Let’s put this in perspective: 50 million is 10 million more people than live in California, our most populous state. And when 50 million users of a certain social-networking site were hacked, the news was everywhere. Why can’t we turn up the volume just as loud on dementia?

2. Dementia is significantly underdiagnosed. According to the report, diagnosis rates are under 50 percent in many high-income countries. One reason for this is the stigma attached to the disease. If you’re having cognitive issues, it’s important to tell your doctor sooner rather than later. Per the report, evidence shows that people who get diagnosed have a better quality of life than those who don’t.

3.  Dementia can’t be prevented or effectively treated. The only way to discover effective treatments is through research, which requires funding. The good news, as the report details, is that the U.S. government has increased funding for dementia research from million in 2013 to .3 billion for the 2019 fiscal year. Still, the report concludes, funding must continue to increase around the world to advance treatment efforts.

4. Technology has the potential to improve care and support. The report specifically highlights an app called GameChanger, which features memory and thinking games. It actually tests parts of the brain that are likely affected in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. According to the report, this kind of innovation could change how dementia is diagnosed.

5. A dementia diagnosis is not a death sentence. With support from family and caregivers, people living with dementia can live meaningful lives. If you need support in caring for a loved one, Home Instead offers free resources at HelpForAlzheimersFamilies.com and the Remember for Alzheimer’s Families Facebook page.

 Dementia is not a disease that happens just because we get old. Like other diseases, it’s something that affects people because of their genes or other factors. It’s also a progressive illness that may take up to 20 years before its symptoms appear. So, while many people might not know they have it until they’ve reached a certain age, we’re not all destined to get dementia if we’re lucky enough to live a long life.  

I hope reading this inspires you to act – for yourself, for a family member, for humankind. We need to erase the stigma attached to dementia by getting it out in the open. Let’s talk about it – not just with our aging parents or grandparents, but with our children and other young people in our lives. Let’s get informed and get involved. Read the World Dementia Council’s report found online, advocate for increased government funding, volunteer and join us on Oct. 10 for this year’s Alzheimer’s walk. 

 

Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern?  She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.