The Alzheimer’s Generation: What We’ve Learned in 30 Years
Rita Altman, R.N
In the early 1980s, most people with Alzheimer’s disease would have simply been labeled as “senile.” Spouses and adult children would take on the responsibility of providing care until it was time for a nursing home, where they received care in an institutional setting.
Since then, there have been remarkable strides forward in the diagnosis, understanding and care for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss. Reflecting on the progress we’ve made in the last 30 years helps us to prioritize new advances in the decades ahead.
Diagnosis, Treatment and Education
Every 69 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s disease and one out of every eight seniors over the age of 65 has the disease. Yet 30 years ago, no one knew its name. If you search the New York Times archives from 1850 through 1977 for “Alzheimer’s disease,” only one story refers to the disease, although it was first diagnosed back in 1907.
The Alzheimer’s Association, whose resources are invaluable to so many today, was not even founded until 1980, and it was not until 1982 that Ronald Reagan declared an official “Alzheimer’s Awareness” week. Many people regarded the symptoms of confusion and memory loss as just a reality of getting older. The result was that little attention was given to treatment, diagnosis, and more importantly, elder care and caregivers.
While a definitive cure for Alzheimer’s is still elusive, there are five FDA-approved drug treatments that help relieve the symptoms of the disease. These have all been developed in the past few decades and there are numerous new therapies in the research pipeline.
Prior to the 1970s, resources and services for people with memory loss were virtually non-existent, and care was given either at home or in nursing homes. Fortunately, a major shift occurred in the 1980s when the institutionalized medical model of care provided in nursing homes transitioned to the resident-centered social model provided in assisted living communities and in home elder care agencies.
To find out how Andelcare can help your loved one stay at home with Elder Care in Bellevue WA, call us today at 888-788-3051. We are an elder care agency providing quality and affordable care for our seniors, veterans and the disabled in our community.