As I write this blog, I’m trolling Twitter. Just seeing what’s out there in the way of caregiver support, resources, news, etc, etc, etc. Turns out, there’s a lot shaking in our world. A quick scroll on my feed shows Tweets about everything from incontinence and nursing homes to tips on how to be an organized caregiver (“organized” and “caregiver:” two words that don’t really go together). Lots of information. Some of it useful; most of it scary.
(No, you don’t and won’t have enough money to grow old).
While you’ll absolutely find information about caregiving or being a caregiver, much of what’s out there is geared towards Baby Boomers… because let’s face it, Baby Boomers are a hot commodity right now.
Why? They’re rich and they’re going to get sick.
As for the under 40 set, well, we’re sort of preoccupied with paying off our student loans, buying our first home (or drowning in it, as the case may be), finding our dream job, finding Mr. or Ms. Right, making babies, having babies and/or getting divorced.
You know what else we’re doing? We’re NOT saving. Saving for the day we develop a long term illness like dementia.
That said, we’re about as undesirable as they come. And you should be pissed off about that. After all, we’re not safe from Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias… there are no cures, no means of prevention. NADA.
Still not convinced? Just Google, “Alzheimer’s and 2050.”
This is the quiet before the Tsunami.
Here are a few things you should know:
- Alzheimer’s disease is just one of several types of dementias (my mom has frontotemporal dementia).
- HIV/AIDS was once considered a death sentence; today it’s a “manageable disease.” That’s because a lot of money was thrown into the research bucket and antiviral drugs were developed.
- Medicare will NOT pay for nursing home/assisted living care.
- You can’t afford to grow old. According to Genworth’s 2012 Cost of Care Survey, which I found in an online article on Next Avenue, “one year of long-term care ranges from $39,600 for an assisted living facility to $81,030 for a private room in a nursing home.” (source: Next Avenue; Genworth)
- Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. (source: 2012 Alzheimer’s Association, Facts & Figures report)
- Have you ever changed an adult’s diaper? More than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care valued at $210 billion for persons with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. (source: 2012 Alzheimer’s Association, Facts & Figures report)
- In 2012, the direct costs of caring for those with Alzheimer’s or other dementias to American society will total an estimated $200 billion, including $140 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. Unless something is done, the care costs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias will soar from $200 billion to a projected $1.1 trillion (in today’s dollars) by 2050. (source: 2012 Alzheimer’s Association, Facts & Figures report)
What can you (reasonably) do?
- Become an advocate. Make your voice heard.
- Get information: Call Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, the Alzheimer’s Association or the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration
- Call your Representative and make an appointment to tell your story (remember, politicians are technically supposed to work for you).
- Attend local town halls.
- Join YAAA! – Young Adults for Alzheimer’s Awareness!
- Walk to End Alzheimer’s
- Write an editorial for your local newspaper.
- Connect with others via social media (Facebook, Twitter), support groups, or your local Alzheimer’s Association.
- Meet new people at the Alzheimer’s Forum in Washington DC.
- Participate in clinical trials.
Here’s the myth: Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are diseases old people get. Here’s the truth: People in their 30s, 40s and 50s are developing dementia. Here’s the other truth: This disease will touch your life one day, if it hasn’t already.
Dementia is not an old person’s disease.