June 20, 2024

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease Overview

General Health
Dementia and Alzheimers Disease Overview

As life expectancy has steadily increased over the past decades, so has the prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  In 2014, dementia affected over 7 million adults in the United States, and it is projected to double by 2060.  Although sometimes used interchangeably, dementia is the general term used to describe a variety of conditions that refer to memory loss.  Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that is believed to be the most common type.

As humans age, some age-related memory challenges are expected.  Below are several examples of normal aging memory issues:
  • Misplacing keys or other daily objects
  • Forgetting the name of an acquaintance
  • Struggling to find a word but remembering it later
People with dementia often have the following problems:
  • Getting lost in a familiar place
  • Using unusual words to refer to common items
  • Forgetting the name of a loved one
  • Not being able to complete tasks independently
As with many diseases, dementia is difficult to prevent but there are several determinants (some of which you can control and others that you cannot control), that increase a person’s risk:
  • Age – The strongest known risk factor is increasing age as most cases affect those over 65.
  • Family History – Those who have family members with dementia are more likely to develop dementia themselves.
  • Race/Ethnicity – African Americans are two times as likely and those with Hispanic backgrounds are 1.5 as likely to develop dementia than whites.
  • Poor Heart Health
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

As the most prevalent form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is still not fully understood by scientists, but it is likely a combination of causes and not a single cause.  Growing evidence is pointing towards healthy behaviors (such as physical activity, a nutritious diet, limited alcohol consumption and not smoking) as a strong defense against the disease.  There are also medications that can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease in some people.  At this time, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease; however, positive support from family, friends and a care team can help create a positive environment for those suffering from the disease.

Fort HealthCare has been working on becoming a “Dementia Friendly” community for the past year. Our goal is to educate all FHC employees and providers, so we are equipped to provide great care to those living with dementia. FHC has established a Dementia Friendly Task Force that meets monthly to plan education and review community resources.  We have several community members on the task force including representation from the Dwight Foster Public Library, Jefferson County ARDC, and Home Instead. Our goal is to become a “Dementia Friendly” community in 2024.

To learn more about the diagnosis process, treatment and how to live with these diseases, please visit the CDC Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia website.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia | CDC Aging