By Kassandra A. King
When baby boomers united in causes, their voices were heard loud and clear. During the 1960s and 1970s, courageous individuals organized to impact social issues. Now the time has come to reignite that daring spirit. Alzheimer’s disease needs them to take a stand for the greater good.
Self-determination is ultimately what everyone wants, and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects individual liberties on every level. Statistics show during the next three decades everyone will watch at least one close relation go through the degenerative process of AD.
Fear of the future paralyzes and traps individuals in denial. With the swelling senior population, vital conversations about the probability of developing AD should be initiated sooner rather than later. Willingness to recognize the warning signs of this daunting disease will make an enormous and lasting difference.
Concerns about cognitive difficulties, such as memory loss, poor judgment, and the inability to complete routine tasks, should be shared openly with people who care. Through education, measures can be taken to support a comfortable future. Without action, an increased burden will fall to family members, partners and friends, who will be forced to make heart-wrenching decisions on behalf of those no longer able to do so.
Pride is a fierce defector, a foe in the battle. Human ego is reluctant to admit shortcomings and rejects domination by others, thus this subject is avoided for as long as possible. Set the course for yourselves, your offspring and fellow families by facing Alzheimer’s disease. When the symptoms begin, proactive steps generate better outcomes.
Here are three areas of exploration to empower a future based on knowledge.
Planning for the future
Seek the assistance of licensed professionals for these complex matters: smart financial planning can preserve resources; long-term care insurance coverage, prior to diagnosis, provides for placement in a private care community; downsizing homesteads to manageable proportions promotes aging in place; and medical directives will dictate end of life preferences when the words to self-express are lost.
Involvement in Alzheimer’s disease research is a means to connect with specialists and to make a lasting contribution for future generations. Some research companies provide financial compensation and facilitate transportation for appointments. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans are the only reliable test to diagnose AD in a living person. A research study for AD is likely to include a free PET scan. Participation and testing results in research studies are confidential.
Improving institutional care
Skilled nursing facilities are medical models of care, where extended stays are largely funded by Medi-Cal. Residential care facilities, which are social models of care, are paid for by the individual. The need for improvement is widespread in both public and private sectors. Areas in which to advocate for quality of life include staff training, recreational programs, pleasant environment, appropriate clinical care, and resident rights.
As young adults during a transformational era, then older adults in an age of technology, baby boomers have been game changers. This post-World War II population can forge a new turning point for all. Rather than regard Alzheimer’s disease with complacency, they can be a catalyst to find the solution.
––Kassandra A. King, BA, NHA, RCFE is the owner of Alzheimer’s Connection and author of “Getting REAL About Alzheimer’s: Rementia through Engagement, Assistance, and Love.” (Plainview Press 2014). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org