-Karen Read, MSN, RN, Nurse Educator

“Within all of us resides the need to be whole.” – Oliver Sacks, M.D.

alzheimersAmericans are living longer lives than ever before. In fact, it’s estimated that 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day. But with that, it seems, we are also hearing about more cases of dementia. Chances are that we have or will cross paths with someone who is diagnosed with dementia symptoms. The more we know about dementia, the more help we can get for those battling the disease.

According to the Alzheimer Association, dementia is not a specific disease, but rather an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or thinking skills that is severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. The most common type of dementia Is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 60% to 80% of cases. Today, nearly 5 ½ million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common type of dementia.

There are many conditions that cause symptoms of dementia, but it is important to know that dementia is not a part of normal aging. Many people have memory issues. This does not mean they have dementia. If you or a loved one is experiencing memory difficulties or other changes in thinking skills, don’t ignore them! Discuss the changes with your healthcare provider.

Although symptoms of dementia vary greatly, at least two of the following must be impaired to be considered dementia:

• Memory

• Communications and language

• Ability to focus and pay attention

• Reasoning and judgment

• Visual perception

For example, a person with dementia may have difficulty keeping track of their wallet, preparing meals or remembering where they live. Many (but not all) dementias are progressive; meaning changes occur slowly over time and continually progress. Early diagnosis will help your loved one get the maximum benefit from available treatment.

At Liberty Lutheran, we recognize the rising number of dementia cases in the community and offer many services to support an individual in every stage of the disease. For seniors that want to live at home and are able to do so, Liberty at Home provides many services that allow individuals to experience safer and more enjoyable independent living. Liberty Lutheran’s senior communities, Artman and Paul’s Run, strive for a “personalized” approach to each resident, allowing them to live life to the fullest with the utmost compassionate care.

Dementia care is constantly evolving and Liberty is committed to providing the best care possible. That’s why staff undergoes on-going education on dementia and new treatments. In fact, over the course of the past two years, all staff members from all departments have attended six-hour educational workshops about dementia care and the value of a person-centered approach, which stresses the cornerstones of comfort, social interaction, “fun” and meaningful relationships. These are things we all need to flourish and grow.

For information about Liberty at Home services, contact Dana O’Donnell, Executive Director, 215-643-6335 ext. 147.

For information about care at Paul’s Run, contact BJ Maul, 215-934-3011.

For information about care at Artman, contact MaryAnn McLaughlin, 215-643-6335 ext 110


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