Moments of panic: Costs related to Alzheimer's Disease on the rise

LaRay Ramey, program director for the North Georgia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, gives an interactive presentation that included video and statistics on the disease as well as dementia at Shorter University this week.

In a seminar at Shorter University this week members of the community learned a lot about the 6th leading cause of death in America: Alzheimer’s Disease.

LaRay Ramey, program director for the North Georgia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, gave the interactive presentation included video and statistics on the disease as well as dementia.

“We all have moments of panic when it comes to forgetting things. This job allows me to help the people affected with dementia and Alzheimer’s to continue living their best life possible, for as long as possible,” she said.

This seminar went into depth about Alzheimer’s and dementia, how to spot early warning signs, provided statistics on why the disease is so prevalent and how to care for a loved one who may be affected.

The costs associated with treating those with Alzheimer’s disease are projected to jump to between $379 and more than $500 billion annually by the year 2040. That’s just over double the cost to treat patients affected by the disease now.

Death rates for Alzheimer’s disease are increasing, she said.

That growth is juxtaposed with heart disease and cancer death rates which are on the decline. Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, has been shown to be under-reported in death certificates and therefore the proportion of older people who die from Alzheimer’s may be considerably higher, the Center for Disease Control reported.

Throughout the 2½-hour seminar, Ramey shared many personal stories and opened the floor for others to ask questions, and to seek advice. During this time, she shared information about different support groups that are available around the Rome area for the caregivers of people affected by this disease.

In 2014, an estimated 5 million Americans 65 years old or older had Alzheimer’s disease, and she said, this number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.

According to the CDC the disease is:

♦ One of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States.

♦ The 6th leading cause of death among U.S. adults.

♦ The 5th leading cause of death among adults aged 65 years or older

Compounding the disease itself, Ramey said, is the perception of the public and a stigma that comes from any disease that affects the mind.

However, one criminal justice major at the school decided to use the talk as an opportunity.

“This seminar helped inform me on how to handle a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia,” senior criminal justice major Ashton Draper said. “My career field isn’t very educated on how to care for people affected by the disease, which could easily lead to a misunderstanding or someone getting hurt. I attended so that I could better prepare for going out into the community and loving everyone as best as I possibly can.”

Draper was also motivated to attend the seminar by the guidance of her professor, and chair of the social sciences department, Jared Linebach.

“This is the heart of Shorter University. We are here to help the community and to impact the lives of those around us,” Linebach said. “By hosting this seminar we are able to bring people in and educate them about something very serious, while also getting the opportunity to showcase the mission of Shorter University.

For more information about these support groups, and others around the state of Georgia, contact the Alzheimer’s Association at 800-272-3900 or visit www.alz.org/georgia.

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