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Dealing with Dementia

Memories. They’re what make us who we are. They guide, entertain, teach and help us in our everyday lives. So holding on to and recalling memories are essential, especially as we ease into our golden years. But millions of Americans have been robbed of the ability to call upon their memories because they suffer from some form on dementia, the most common cause of memory loss.

During November, National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month, the Johns Hopkins Memory & Alzheimer’s Treatment Center wants to make you aware of the information and treatment available to patients, and the support and education for families and caregivers.

“Ten percent of people over age 65 and one third of those 85 and older have some form of dementia,” says Constantine G. Lyketsos, M.D., MPH, director of the Johns Hopkins Memory & Alzheimer’s Treatment Center. “And the older you get, the greater your chances are of developing dementia or caring for someone with the disease.”

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common and well-known form of dementia, affects as many as five million people in the United States (and is expected to rise to 13 million by 2050). In fact, statistics show that every 72 seconds someone develops the disease, which is characterized by symptoms of memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, personality changes, disorientation and loss of language skills. There is no known cause or proven cures, but there are treatments that could help stave off the symptoms of the fatal disease.

According to Dr. Lyketsos, M.D., there are some ways to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease:

The Johns Hopkins Memory & Alzheimer’s Treatment Center provides treatment and diagnosis by a multidisciplinary team including psychiatrists, neurologists, psychologists, geriatric medicine specialists, social workers and specially trained nurses.

Patients and their families will benefit from some of the most innovative approaches and research on diagnosing and treating dementia. For example, Johns Hopkins researchers are currently working on a new blood test that would be able to determine who’s more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s. They also are working on developing MRI and PET brain imaging approaches that will help determine how fast the disease might progress.

The Center not only offers cutting-edge treatment options to those suffering from the ravages of Alzheimer’s and dementia, but also a whole continuum of care for their loved ones, the “caregivers.”

“Studies show that there’s a greater risk of mortality in those family members or friends who are the caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, as well as a greater risk of getting dementia” says Dr. Lyketsos. “So it’s just as important to treat those caring for the dementia patient. We teach them systematic ways to care for their loved ones and tend to their own mental health needs by encouraging ‘respite,’ a separation or rest from care giving.”

The Memory Center also offers these tips for the caregiver:

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