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Dangerous Days for People With Dementia

By Debbie Selsavage

Dementia, which has many causes (75 percent of dementias are caused by Alzheimer’s Disease), has become a major national concern.  The Alzheimer’s Association reports that today there are five million with the disease and that, by 2050, this number will grow to 16 million people.

There are primarily two reasons for this trend.  First, we are living longer.  Thanks to advances in medical technology, what once were killer diseases have been brought under control.  Thus, more of us live into the period of life when dementia can set in.  Basically, this period is 60 years and older.

The second reason is demographic.  The post-war Baby Boomers have become, or are on their way to becoming “elders.”

Statistics suggest that dementia is or will become a greater problem in Hernando and Citrus Counties than within Florida as a whole.  This is because Citrus and Hernando have older populations.

Throughout the State of Florida, 17 percent of the population are over the age of 65.  In Hernando County, 31 percent are over 65!  This means that on a per-capita basis, Hernando has almost twice the number of people over 65 than the State of Florida.

Citrus is even more extreme.  Fully 35 percent of its citizens are over the age of 65, which is more than twice the state average!  Not only are these two counties significantly older than other Florida counties as a whole, they also have older populations than the other counties along the so-called Nature Coast.

What do we need to do in response to this situation?  It means that the county commissions, Sheriff’s Offices, other first responder agencies and health care services need to be ramped up in Hernando and Citrus to meet the current and growing demand.

There are already some very good things happening.  In Citrus, for example, the Sheriff’s Office has initiated a database for persons with special needs so that first responders will be able to deliver more appropriate specific responses to 911 calls that involve people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Hernando County has the good fortune of being the home of the Alzheimer’s Family Organization, which provides services and support to caregivers in eight west-central Florida counties.

My company, Coping with Dementia, LLC, can provide free educational workshops.  The best tool to confront problems is knowledge and understanding of this insidious disease.  We must all be dedicated to making both Hernando and Citrus Counties more dementia safe and dementia friendly.

Debbie Selsavage is President of the Alzheimer’s Family Organization, a Certified Dementia Practitioner, a licensed assisted living administrator, and president of Coping with Dementia LLC.  Contact her with your questions, at 352-422-3663, or at www.coping.today