Things are changing on the dementia front, and we might say they’re changing for both the better and the worst. On the one hand, the overall rate of dementia is (according to most projections) rising rather rapidly. On the other, though, scientists are finally starting to make some real headway in their understanding of this terrible disease.
With the growing diagnoses and the more frequent dementia-related headlines in the news, we’re seeing more widespread awareness about dementia than ever before.
Statistical models show that if you don’t already know someone affected by dementia, you probably will within the next few decades (or sooner), unless things change. In other words, the disease is really hitting home for many Americans.
In a sense, that is encouraging news — history shows us that medical advances often follow a rising tide of cultural awareness.
For today’s dementia patients, this newfound awareness also heralds a more immediate benefit — dignity. New nursing homes are popping up with dementia-specific care programs. Seniors have a growing number of alternative care options, too, like “Dementia Villages,” which are designed to provide a neighborhood-like living environment for those with advanced care needs.
Recently, I came across a story about a pub in Mill Creek, Washington that offers a 90-minute dementia “supper club” every week, designed to offer a good meal and a respectful network of support for dementia patients and their caregivers. “Mac ‘n’ cheese with a side of dignity,” they call it.
Dignity is crucial to the dementia patient’s experience, and it ought to be a paramount objective in every service we seek out for them. It’s always a chief goal in my efforts as a Middlesex County elder law attorney, and I’m pleased to see that people in other lines of business are getting on board with that notion as well.