Monthly Archives: January 2012

Alzheimer’s – A Disease That’s Touched Us All

“Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 50 to 80 percent of dementia cases.”[1]

To many of us, Alzheimer’s is more than just a disease. I heard once that in some way, we are all touched by Alzheimer’s disease, whether as a patient, caregiver, family member, friend, or acquaintance of one who is living with the disease.

Contrary to myth, memory loss is not a natural part of aging. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are serious problems that as of now seem to have no cure. An estimated 5.4 million Americans are currently suffering with Alzheimer’s disease. Thirteen to sixteen million Americans are projected to have the disease by 2050, costing approximately one trillion dollars in medical expenses.

Currently, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading killer in America. Those who have Alzheimer’s slowly lose their memories, and die without ever knowing they were a mother, father, neighbor, or friend. The U.S. government has recognized Alzheimer’s as a growing problem and have resolved to help.

Two weeks ago the Associated Press announced, “The government is setting what it calls an ambitious goal for Alzheimer’s disease: Development of effective ways to treat and prevent the mind-destroying illness by 2025.”[2]

Among  other goals, the government hopes “to improve timely diagnosis and improve support and training for families so they know what resources are available for patients and what to expect as dementia worsens.”[2]

Today about half of those with Alzheimer’s have not been formally diagnosed. This is in part because of the belief that nothing can be done, that Alzheimer’s is incurable. We used to believe that diseases like scarlet fever, tuberculosis, and breast cancer were incurable, yet our scientists never gave up and now victims of these diseases can be cured.

The most important thing to remember when your loved one is diagnosed with such a disease as Alzheimer’s is to never lose hope. As the government makes steps toward curing Alzheimer’s, we too must make steps toward helping our loved ones know that we have not given up.

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[1] Alzheimer’s Association (800.272.3900)

[2] Neergaard, Lauran. “U.S. wants effective Alzheimer’s treatment by 2025.” Associated Press. (2012)


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A Cheaper Alternative for Respite (Adult Day Care)

Since the downturn of the economy, costs for health care have been on the rise. According to a 2011 market survey of long-term care costs, the national average daily rate for a private room in a nursing home rose 4.4% last year from $229 in 2010 to $239 in 2011. Similarly, the national average monthly base rate in an assisted living community rose 5.6% from $3,293 in 2010 to $3,477 in 2011.

These rising costs are frightening to many young caregivers who are trying to find the best way to care for their loved one. If your loved one is suffering from dementia or other chronic diseases such as chronic hypertension, physical disability, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental illness and developmental disability, you may want to look into an adult day care program.

While the costs of adult day care rose along with other health care costs, it still remained the lowest annual rate in 2011 when compared with the annual costs of nursing homes, assisted living communities, and home care.[i] Though daily fees for adult day services vary depending upon the services provided, the national average rate for adult day centers is $61 per day (includes 8-10 hours on average) compared to an average rate for home health aids of $19 per hour.[ii] Furthermore, nearly 78 percent of adult day centers are operated on a nonprofit or public basis.[iii]

The National Adult Day Services Association describes adult day centers in this way:

“Adult day service centers provide a coordinated program of professional and compassionate services for adults in a community-based group setting. Services are designed to provide social and some health services to adults who need supervised care in a safe place outside the home during the day. They also afford caregivers respite from the demanding responsibilities of caregiving.”

The adult day service is a growing industry with over 4,600 adult day centers across the United States and more than 260,000 participants.[iii] They provide aging and chronically ill adults with a small loving community. The average capacity of an adult day care center is forty adults with a recipient to staff ratio of 6:1.[ii]

Adult day care is a desirable option for those family caregivers wishing to keep loved ones who are in chronic care in their own community, at home, and among friends and family for as long as possible.

Caring for a loved one can present emotional, physical, and financial tolls that are often too difficult to manage 24/7. Adult day centers can provide family caregivers a few hours of rest and rejuvenation while your loved one spends their day engaging in social and therapeutic activities.

Still, it may be difficult to leave your loved one at a facility you know little about. Selecting an adult day care center that suits both the needs of yourself and your loved one is crucial to putting both your minds at rest. The National Adult Day Services Association suggests you visit many different centers; ask lots of questions both of the staff and previous recipients; give your center of choice a try for a few days as it will take several visits for a new setting and routine to feel comfortable; and allow yourself to relax knowing that your loved one is being cared for.

To begin your search for adult day care centers, visit the National Care Planning Council’s list of adult day centers in your area; contact your state’s Adult Day Services Association; ask at a local senior center; or contact your local Area Agency on Aging (800-677-1116).


[i] The MetLife Mature Market Institute, 2011 Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs

[ii] The MetLife Market Survey of Adult Day Services & Home Care Costs, MetLife Mature Market Institute®, in conjunction with LifePlans, Inc., www.MatureMarketInstitute.com, September 2007.

[iii] National Study of Adult Day Services, 2001-2002.Winston-Salem,North Carolina: Partners in Caregiving: The Adult Day Services Program,Wake Forest University School of Medicine, 2002

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