Alzheimer's is indeed a looming health care crisis as baby boomers age. As the Jan. 8 article mentions, the number of new cases of Alzheimer's disease continues to climb. One in seven Americans — 11,430 Kentuckians — diagnosed with Alzheimer's lives alone without identifiable caregivers, according to Alzheimer's Association 2012 Facts and Figures.
The Alzheimer's Association projects a 500 percent increase in combined state Medicare and Medicaid spending by 2050 due to the expanding population of Alzheimer's patients.
The article notes that Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging, but that risk of Alzheimer's does increase with age. While forgetfulness can be a normal sign of aging, memory loss that disrupts daily life is among the 10 signs of Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. More on the 10 signs can be found at Alz.org.
The Alzheimer's Association offers numerous resources, including Alzheimer's Navigator (Alzheimersnavigator.org), an online tool to help caregivers evaluate their needs, identify action steps and connect with local services.
Additionally, a social networking community called ALZConnected (Alzconnected.org) enables caregivers and people with dementia to connect and communicate with others who understand their challenges. Members may pose questions, offer solutions, create public and private groups, and contribute to message boards.
The Alzheimer's Association also operates a 24-hour help line at 1-800-272-3900.
Teri Shirk is executive director of the Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.