Paul's Note - June 11, 2021

Last August, the Pima Council on Aging was awarded a federal grant to support dementia specialized supportive services for people living with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias and their caregivers. They will be rolling out these programs over the coming weeks and months, and I’ll keep you up to date on them. You can also check their website, pcoa.org

W. Mark Clark, the President and CEO of the Pima Council on Aging, wrote about the importance of such programs for all of our families. It appeared in their magazine Never Too Late. It’s reposted below with their permission. 

I am well acquainted with the prices families pay as a result of loved ones living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. As a teen, I recall my grandmother calling my father on more than one occasion to tell him that my grandfather had wandered from home. Thankfully, every time we were able to locate him and get him safely home, but I still remember the gut-wrenching panic and worry that led up to that eventual relief. These and related concerns are heavy burdens for the 16 million Americans caring for family and friends with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. 

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6 in 10 people with the disease will wander at least once, and many will do so repeatedly. Alzheimer’s disease causes people to lose their ability to recognize familiar places and faces. It’s common for a person living with dementia to wander or become lost or confused about their location, and it can happen at any stage of the disease. 

While we have been focused on the immediate threats to the health and safety of older adults resulting from the pandemic for many months, as the virus begins to ebb the ripple effects are emerging. A recent University of Michigan report cites that 1 in 5 older adults say their mental health has worsened since March 2020, and 1 in 4 say they are more anxious. Long periods of isolation and disruption of daily routines have been linked with significantly increased symptoms of dementia and behavioral difficulties for people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. 

Dementia is already a significant cause of death in Arizona and that is expected to worsen significantly this decade. I’m proud to say PCOA is contributing to providing education about Alzheimer’s and dementia and support for caregivers of people living with dementia through our new Dementia Capable Southern Arizona initiative. 

Know the signs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias – and what can be attributed to normal age-related change. One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information, important dates or events, or asking for the same questions over and over. By contrast, an example of a typical age-related change might be sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later. 

Some people living with dementia experience changes in their ability to follow a recipe or keep track of monthly bills. They often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes they may have trouble driving to a familiar location, organizing a grocery list or remembering the rules of a favorite game. 

If you notice these signs in yourself or others, don't ignore them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation. With early detection, you can explore treatments that may provide some relief of symptoms and help you maintain a level of independence longer. 

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Reminder: The Red Cross Bloodmobile will be at Udall Park (7290 E Tanque Verde) on July 9th. The Red Cross will be taking donations by appointment between 9 am and 2 pm that day. For more information, call 1 800 733-2767 or visit redcrossblood.org. Remember to use the code WARD2.

A few of you have already signed up, but we'd like to see more folks giving.