RESEDA, Calif., Nov. 9 The medical director of the famedLos Angeles Jewish Home is marking November's National Alzheimer's DiseaseAwareness Month by calling for increased understanding of an illness that isthe 11th leading cause of death for adults age 65 and older and expected togrow even more widespread in coming years.
It's estimated that four million Americans have Alzheimer's disease; andunless a cure or significant treatment is found, it's predicted that as manyas 14 million will have the disease by 2050. While the cause of Alzheimer'sdisease is still uncertain, researchers agree that the risk of developing thecondition increases as a person ages.
"It's incredibly important while the search for a cure is underway," saidDr. Rick Smith, the Home's medical director, "that we understand how tocorrectly care for those afflicted with this difficult malady."
According to Smith, experts have long been aware that environment can playan important role in caring for Alzheimer's patients. Because Alzheimer'sdisease slowly and inexorably robs its victims of memory as well as bothcognitive and motor skills, the warmth and reassurance of "home" is vitallyimportant.
"Because Alzheimer's is an organic process and progresses over time,"Smith explained, "early diagnosis can help individuals and their loved oneshave as much time as possible to do the best they can with circumstances thatare beyond their control."
Smith recommends working with a therapist who can provide information andsupport for the whole family. Therapy can provide crucial insight into what tonext anticipate, how best to cope day by day, and ways to move through theinevitable mix of emotions, including loss, anger, hope, intensified love,frustration, alienation, helplessness, grief, and a "deepened awareness ofboth the power and the fragility of the human experience."
The Home's Goldenberg-Ziman Special Care Center is one of the mostadvanced Alzheimer's facilities in the world featuring many pioneeringfeatures ranging from architectural design to simulate a home-like setting toskylights to allow natural sunlight exposure that helps the body respond toits natural circadian rhythms to unique colored and patterned flooringintended to decrease the risk of serious injury from falls.
Founded in 1912, the world-renowned Los Angeles Jewish Home is one of theforemost continuing senior living facilities in the United States and is thelargest single-source provider of senior housing in Los Angeles. In total theHome annually serves more than 2,000 seniors through an extraordinarycontinuum of services. Each year, more than 1,500 senior women and men aresupported through in-residence housing on two village campuses (spanning 16acres), with services featuring independent-living "Neighborhood Home"accommodations, residential care, skilled nursing care, Alzheimer's diseaseand dementia care. Another 700 seniors are served through the Home'scommunity-based programs which include Skirball Hospice, home health care andcommunity clinics. Healthcare professionals from around the world consult withthe Jewish Home in an effort to improve eldercare in their home countries. TheHome is a nonprofit organization that relies upon donations from individuals,corporations and foundations to continue its remarkable work. Furtherinformation regarding the Home can be found online at http://www.jha.org or bycalling 818-757-4407.Alzheimer's signs to look for include: -- Recent memory loss -- Problems with language -- Disorientation in time and space and getting confused or lost in a familiar place -- Difficulty completing familiar tasks -- Distorted judgment -- Problems with abstract thinking -- Misplacing things -- Repeated and sudden changes in mood and behavior -- Changes in personality -- Loss of initiative to do things