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National Alzheimer's Awareness Month

by Sandy Halperin
National Alzheimer's Awareness Month

Legend (L-R) Everett Yarbrough, Lauren Halperin, 

Sandy Halperin, Patrick Hogan)

Westminster Oaks is Turning Purple!

At the entrance to Tallahassee’s Westminster Oaks Retirement Community, the large pink ribbon spotlighting October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month is now an over-sized purple ribbon. Residents have shifted their focus to the National Alzheimer’s and Caregivers Awareness Month.

The National Alzheimer's Association, and it's local chapter, along with Alzheimer's Project, Inc., have played key roles in Alzheimer's awareness and education. Each year, the National Alzheimer's Association prepares an annual Facts and Figures manual with regards to Alzheimer's disease, and many of the statistics detailed below come from the recent 2013 report. 

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. At that time, fewer than two million Americans had Alzheimer’s. Today, the number diagnosed with Alzheimer’s has soared to 5.2 million. There are now more than 15 million caregivers. In Florida alone, 450,000 older adults live with Alzheimer’s, a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. That’s a 25 per cent increase since 2,000. There are now more than one million caregivers in Florida.

Alzheimer’s Disease, which exacts a tremendous emotional and economic toll on individuals, families, and society, is the only cause of death among the top 10 in our nation without a way to prevent it or cure it. That’s why national opinion leaders and a growing chorus of individuals - including many residents at Westminster Oaks - say Alzheimer’s research must be a national priority.

A National Institute on Aging study reports Alzheimer’s and other dementias last year cost United States taxpayers (Medicare and Medicaid) $142 billion, more than any other single disease, including cancer and heart disease. The study finds both the number of people with dementia and the costs associated with it will more than double within 30 years.

Federal dollars spent on Alzheimer’s research is relatively small: just $448 million in 2011. The research community is energized by the promise of Alzheimer’s Disease treatments and cures, poised to make important advances by planning clinical trials and investigating new therapeutic targets. More than 350 leading researchers agree Alzheimer’s can be prevented and effectively treated by 2025, if critical investments and reforms are made.

For several years, Alzheimer’s Project, Inc. has facilitated at Westminster Oaks a monthly (every second Tuesday) Support Group for those caring for persons with cognitive impairment. In addition,Alzheimer's Project, Inc., provide other FREE services to local caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, including: counseling, respite opportunities and Project Lifesaver, a proactive recovery system for those who may wander away from safety.  For information, call (850) 386-2778.

One of 21 Florida non-profit retirement communities operated by Westminster Communities of Florida, Westminster Oaks is one of the nation’s premier continuing care retirement communities.