Learn about Alzheimer’s disease at March 19 event

Currently there are over five million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and by 2050 the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple to as many as 16 million.

Closer to home in Arizona, there are 120,000 people aged 65 and older with Alzheimer’s representing 10 percent of Arizona seniors. Research shows that only about half of the people living with Alzheimer’s disease have ever been diagnosed. Sadly, at this time, Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death among the top 10 in the U.S. that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed.

In a cooperative effort to provide support and information to our communities about this disease, the Apache Junction and Mesa police departments will present an educational and resources event from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 19, at the Apache Junction Multi-Generational Center, 1035 N. Idaho Road in Apache Junction. We hope you will join us.

The vast majority of persons with Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia — about 70 percent to 80 percent — live at home and are cared for by informal or family care partners. There were over 300,000 care partners in Arizona in 2014 and the number is growing.

Care partners have a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week responsibility and are often called the “invisible second patients.”

The incidence of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia affect many facets of our community including family, friends, businesses, the health care system and first responders. Care partners and first responders frequently work together on many issues related to a person with dementia including wandering (It is estimated that 60 percent of persons with Alzheimer’s will wander.), loss of driving ability, firearm safety and agitation or improper behavior, such as shoplifting, in public places.

Preparation for such events and behaviors on the part of care partners and first responders is so important because in the midst of a traumatic event it is difficult to gather the information necessary to address the issue. Care partners must share information on the person with dementia with first responders and first responders must educate care partners on their policies and procedures.