Imagine a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia, that’s what we, the Alzheimer’s Association are working towards. Throughout the county, state and specifically in Southern Utah, we know the toll this disease and diagnosis takes on the individual, families, caregivers, friends, and loved ones. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. We want our communities to know where they can turn for resources and support.
More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and 34,000+ live in Utah. It is relevant for everyone. There are more than 104,000 caregivers in the state of Utah giving over 144 million hours of unpaid care. Statistically at age 65, 1 in 10 people will have Alzheimer’s disease. At age 85 this risk increases to 1 in 3 people. Most people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older, however, approximately 200,000 Americans under 65 are living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
In the next 5 years the percentage of our 65 years and older population in Washington County will increase from 30% to 40% as reported by the Southwest Utah Area Agency on Aging. As age is the primary factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s we need to increase awareness and resources throughout our communities.
What We Know
Dementia describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory, reasoning or other thinking skills. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of dementia cases. Dementia is not a normal part of aging. It is caused by damage to brain cells that affects their ability to communicate, which can affect thinking, behavior and feelings.
The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is trouble remembering new information because the disease typically impacts the part of the brain associated with learning first. As Alzheimer’s advances, symptoms get more severe and include disorientation, confusion and behavior changes. Eventually, speaking, swallowing and walking become difficult.
While there are great strides being made in research to better understand the disease and lessen the intensity of symptoms, there is no cure yet. There also is no definitive prevention of Alzheimer’s as the #1 risk factor is age, but focusing on nutrition, exercise, social, and cognitive engagement deliver the most promising results of a healthy brain.
How We Help
“I didn’t think it would happen to our family.” “I had to quit my job and move close to help my mother care for our father.” “We had planned to travel the country when we retired, that’s no longer an option for us.” “I thought I could care for my wife by myself, now I don’t know where to turn.” “I just learned my mother has Alzheimer’s, I don’t know what to do next.” “How do I tell my children their grandfather won’t know who they are the next time we visit?” “How do I tell my family I have Alzheimer’s?”
These statements and questions are what we hear daily as individuals, families, friends and caregivers reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association for answers, resources and support. The Alzheimer’s Association staff and volunteers are working to change the landscape of this disease through the following areas:
- Providing a 24/7 helpline 800- 272-3900 staffed by licensed social workers in over 200 languages for caregivers, families, friends, physicians, community partners and more to get answers, resources and care consultations.
- Providing caregiver support groups so there is an opportunity to share experiences and ask questions.
- Working with community partners to help provide community education opportunities and forums to increase awareness and access to resources.
- Raising awareness with our annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s events.
- Continuing to support research that will end this disease through clinical trials.
- Working with elected officials on matters pressing for our aging population and access to care.
Our goal is to create a network of care, support, and resources for our Southern Utah communities. We welcome volunteers and our communities to join us in the fight, so when we hear “My husband is having a hard time remembering who I am,” that person will know where to turn for support, advice, a listening ear, a compassionate response, and resources to help during their journey.
Facts, figures and more information can be found by going to www.alz.org/utah
Contact for the Southern Utah Alzheimer’s Association Office email@example.com 435-359-4819