Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that destroys brain cells leading to a steady decline in memory, mental capability and the ability to perform the usual activities of daily living. Alzheimer’s disease has no cure. People with Alzheimer’s disease can live for many years after losing the ability to perform even simple daily tasks. They require a great deal of attention and help from caregivers who, most often, are family members, relatives and friends.
Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death among all ages in the United States. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, roughly 5.2 million Americans have this disease or some other form of dementia. This number will rise to almost 23.8 million by 2050, as the boomer population ages.
Alzheimer’s is a major drag on state and federal budgets, not to mention families. The annual cost of Alzheimer’s is expected to reach $1 trillion a year by mid-century, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Medicare and Medicaid often fall short in the face of the overwhelming costs associated with the disease. Much of the burden of care-giving falls on families. About 147,000 unpaid caregivers in Maine tend to loved ones with Alzheimer’s and dementia, care whose value is estimated at more than $900 million.
Maine has a growing problem with Alzheimer’s disease. According to newly released statistics, the number of Mainers living with Alzheimer’s disease will rise from 37,000 in 2013 to over 53,000 by 2020. Maine has the oldest population in the country and large rural areas with limited or no access to services.
Mainers have taken action to address this problem. In March 2013 Maine announced the first-ever state plan for Alzheimer’s disease. This plan follows the release of a national Alzheimer’s disease plan in May 2012. The plan in Maine calls for raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease, providing better diagnosis and treatment, offering support to caregivers and, in general, improving the quality of long-term care services for Alzheimer’s disease.
The state plan has a goal of making Alzheimer’s disease a top priority in Maine with state agencies, local businesses, philanthropic groups and the private sector. The state plan also seeks to raise general awareness regarding what needs to be done to address the problems associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
The Maine Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association was incorporated in 1987 and offers multiple resources for families dealing with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. These resources include information concerning:
Support Groups Education and Programming Professional Care Providers Professional Training Local News Volunteer Opportunities
You can contact the Maine Chapter at its 24/7 Helpline 1-800-272-3900 or visit their website.
Photo Credit: Taliesin, Morguefile.com