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Prepare for care

Prepare for care

With an older-adult population explosion on the horizon, Orange County needs to be prepared to address a new set of challenges and needs.

There is no denying it, as baby boomers age, they bring with them a population explosion previously unseen in modern times. The numbers alone indicate we will see an influx of issues we have never faced before, and coping with a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementia will top the list. 

“The impact of this disease is staggering,” says Todd Hanson, vice president of Donor and Community Engagement at the Orange County Community Foundation.  “The realities of this disease are not easy to discuss, especially if it hits close to home with your family.   We need to work to ensure that our community has the necessary tools and support to care for our older generation.” 

UC Irvine’s Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders, also known as UCI MIND, is staying ahead of the curve by advancing research on Alzheimer’s disease, related dementias and other neurological disorders.  According to MIND, research shows that:

• Someone develops Alzheimer’s disease every 69 seconds in the U.S. and over 5.4 million individuals  are currently afflicted.
• More than 10 percent of the nation’s Alzheimer’s patients live in California and more than 75,000 are in Orange County. 
• Costs associated with caring for Alzheimer’s patients in the U.S. are estimated to be $203 billion a year and will rise to $1.2 trillion by 2050. 

“Our goal is to understand and discover the causes and conditions that affect progression and to find ways to effectively prevent and treat them,” says Frank LaFerla, Ph.D., director of UCI MIND. “We seek to research ways to make memories last a lifetime, allowing individuals to age successfully and with dignity.”

In addition to UCI MIND, there are a number of valuable resources in Orange County to help individuals and families confronting Alzheimer’s and related disorders. “The Alzheimer’s Association Orange County is one of the first calls you will want to make,” says Hanson. “They can provide neutral, unbiased information on what to expect and what you will be faced with next. The family must decide who will care for the person with Alzheimer’s. If you’re going to care for them properly, you need the right information.”

As one of the leading voluntary health organizations in Alzheimer’s care, support and research, the Alzheimer’s Association has a robust Orange County chapter.  They offer a comprehensive suite of programs and services — provided at no charge — to meet the evolving needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, their families, caregivers and the community.
 
Bottom line, we cannot plan soon enough—as families, or as a community.  To learn more about the organizations working to help, please visit www.mind.uci.edu, www.alz.org/oc, or Nonprofit Central at www.ocnonprofitcentral.org.

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Shelley Hoss is president of the Orange County Community Foundation. She can be reached at shoss@oc-cf.org

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