The exploding population of aging adults in America is requiring a cultural shift in the way recognize dementia and other brain-health issues in our communities. According to the Alzheimer's Association, 5.3 million people in America have Alzheimer's and that number is expected to grow to 7.1 million (40% increase) by 2025. These alarming dementia trends are requiring new ways of coping with this dilemma throughout our communities.
The gravity of this issue is hitting home in some cities, and there is an active interest in facing it head on. Dealing with this issue means a great deal of awareness training for community activists, bankers, emergency services personnel, and just about everybody at large in the community. The term “it takes a village” never meant more than it does relative to this epidemic.
John Lundy writes about this community approach to handing dementia in his recent post at the Duluth News Tribune. Lundy notes that communities in Minnesota have been at the forefront of this community approach to Alzheimer's/Dementia. “Concern about the issue led a team of people representing faith communities, law enforcement, community officials, caregivers and the general population to form the Greater International Falls Act on Alzheimer’s. It made the International Falls coalition eligible to become one of 34 communities to be part of the statewide Act on Alzheimer’s network, which was formed in 2009.”
This has really been a learning process for our state,” said Emily Farah-Miller, project director for the effort and program director for the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging in North St. Paul, Minn. “No other state has had a comprehensive effort like this to become dementia-friendly. – John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune, 11/3/15
The city of Duluth made a conscious effort to train emergency responders at a recent Alzheimer's Initiatives training program. Local/regional police, EMT's, and others attended to learn how to work differently with dementia sufferers. Lundy notes that it's not just first responders that need increased awareness about dementia related issues, it's banks and businesses too.
If healthy individuals are ripe for the latest scams, imagine how vulnerable dementia sufferers are. It's vitally important that business personnel (especially banking staff) are aware of the vigilance they must exhibit in order to protect those that are susceptible. Lundy's article notes that large unexplained withdrawals should be a red flag for tellers and other banking staffers.
We all play a role in keeping our loved ones safe, and our role is not limited to our own families. A community approach to dementia awareness can benefit us all as we hope to slow down the progression of these deadly disorders.