By Rick Banas of assisted living provider BMA Management, Ltd.
Tonight, Grammy-award winning country singer Glen Campbell will be performing at Ravinia in nearby Highland Park, Illinois. Just a year ago, in June 2011, the man known for songs such as “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Wichita Lineman” bravely announced that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. His performance at Ravinia is part of his “Goodbye Tour.”
As one of the 76 million that are part of the Baby Boomer generation, I grew up listening to Glen and can vividly recall watching the “Glen Campbell Good time Hour” variety show on CBS.
Alzheimer’s is a disease that steals memories, independence and eventually one’s life, Heather Mulder told those of us in attendance at the educational program that she conducted earlier this month at our Bridle Brook of Mahomet assisted living and memory care community in Champaign County, Illinois.
Heather is the Manager of Consumer Education and Outreach for the Greater Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org). She was speaking on “The Boomer Generation: What You Need to Know about Alzheimer’s Disease.”
The impact of Alzheimer’s disease on the Boomer Generation will be tremendous, Heather noted.
Right now, there are 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s, and the disease is the 6th leading cause of death in our country, Heather said.
Last year, the first of the Baby Boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – started to turn 65. On average over the next 19 years, 10,000 a day will be celebrating their 65th birthday.
With this age wave, the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s is estimated to grow to between 11 and 16 million by the year 2050.
At 65, one in every eight individuals has Alzheimer’s. After 65, your risk of developing the disease doubles every five years.
The onset of the disease is gradual, and there is evidence that the disease starts forming 10 to 20 years before a person starts showing symptoms. The course and length varies from person to person.
The disease causes problems well beyond just forgetting. It affects a person’s ability to make choices, a person’s mood, and a person’s ability to meet personal needs.
Alzheimer’s disease also will have a significant impact on Baby Boomers in another way. Many Boomers are going to be serving as a caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Caregiving can take its toll on the health of the caregiver.
There is hope, there are things you can do to reduce your risk, and there are treatments that are showing potential for slowing the progression of the disease, Heather stressed.
Better heart health equals better brain health. Physical activity is one of the best ways to protect your brain. Stay socially active.
One of the goals of the Alzheimer’s Association is to reduce the risk of dementia by promoting better brain health. The association also is working to advance research and provide care and support for those affected.
To learn more about Baby Boomers and Alzheimer’s disease, a report on “Generation Alzheimer’s: The Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers” is available from the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org/boomers
Among the ways that you can help the Association in its efforts, Heather says, is by learning and sharing the facts, telling your story, advocating for funding and participating in clinical trials and events such as the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The Illinois Chapter has walks scheduled in various locations in August, September and October, including on Sept. 15 in Macomb, which is the home of our Grand Prairie affordable assisted living community, and on Sept. 22 in Pekin, which is the home of our John Evans affordable assisted living community. You can obtain more information at www.alz.org/illinoiscentral
With the first Baby Boomers turning 65 in 2011, the Alzheimer’s Association took steps during the Rose Parade on Jan. 2, 2011 to remind us that “It’s Time to Face Alzheimer’s.” The “The Boomer Express” float was honored with the parade’s President’s Award for having the most effective use of flowers.
“BMA Management is the leading provider of affordable assisted living in Illinois
and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”
Tags: Alzheimer's Disease, Assisted Living Community, Baby Boomer generation, Baby Boomers, Bridle Brook of Mahomet, Generation Alzheimer’s: The Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers, Glen Campbell, Greater Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, Heather Mulder, John Evans SLC, President’s Award, Rhinestone Cowboy, The Boomer Express