Of the 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, approximately 500,000 people are dying every year due to complications related to their disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it is currently ranked the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and numbers are continuing to grow.
Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is a neurological disorder that causes memory loss and cognitive decline due to the deterioration of brain cells. Although there are treatments for Alzheimer’s symptoms, there is no cure for the progressive disease.
A recent study from the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology suggests that Alzheimer’s may contribute to as many deaths as cancer or heart disease but is currently being underreported.
“Currently, Alzheimer's disease falls sixth on the list of leading causes of death in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whereas heart disease and cancer are numbers one and two, respectively. These numbers are based on what is reported on death certificates. (…)Death certificates often list the immediate cause of death, such as pneumonia, rather than listing dementia as an underlying cause."
According to the study reported by Bryan D. James, PhD:
“An estimated 503,400 deaths from Alzheimer's in the U.S. population over age 75 in 2010, which is five to six times higher than the 83,494 number reported by the CDC based on death certificates.”
Another recent study addresses the prevalence of Alzheimer’s in women. According to the American Cancer Society, women born in the United States have a 1 in 8 lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. The 2014 Facts and Figures report released from the Alzheimer’s Association states that women have an estimated lifetime risk of 1 in 6 for developing Alzheimer’s.
Women, who are at the center of the Alzheimer’s epidemic, make up almost 2/3 of the American population living with the disease but also serve as more than 60% of the total caregivers for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
The consequences of caregiving extends past one’s personal life and into their professional realm as well. 20% of women, compared to 3% of men, had to switch from full-time to part-time work because of their responsibilities as caregivers, putting financial burdens on families and affecting productivity for their company of employment.
Utilizing outside help relieves the burdens of caregiving and provides care for those living with the disease. The 2014 Facts and Figures report states,
“Personal care aides and home health aides provide valuable services for people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, allowing many to stay in their own homes. They also provide support and respite to family and friends and other informal caregivers, and they perform services that some informal caregivers are unable to perform.”
Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio offers a multitude of services for Alzheimer’s patients and families. The mental health program provides skilled nursing care, while home health aides provide support services. Allowing Alzheimer’s patients to remain in their home allows for disease and symptom management in comfortable surroundings.
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Learn more about VNA of Ohio mental health program, or call us today at 1-877-698-6264.