Because Baby Boomers are moving into their 70s, the occurrence of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia is expected to grow, according to Barb Caudle, regional director of the Alzheimer’s Association.
The number of secure nursing home beds for seniors with dementia is growing along with the aging population.
Because of this anticipated “tsunami” of dementia, more assisted living centers and nursing homes are adding “memory care” units. These units may be locked units so patients cannot wander off the grounds.
“There is a great need for this, especially for the memory care, because the numbers of people with dementia are just going to keep growing,” Caudle said.
“Alzheimer’s Disease is by far the most common disease that causes dementia symptoms,” Caudle said. “Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia.”
Colorado has one of the largest number of retirees in the country, behind Florida and Arizona, Caudle said. With so many retirees, the number of people with dementia is expected to be high, she added.
“A lot of people think dementia is a normal part of aging,” Caudle said. Instead, only about half the population will develop dementia by age 85.
Research shows that staying connected with people, keeping the brain active, exercising, eating well and developing habits that will help prevent Type II diabetes or heart disease will also help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, she said.
“If you’re doing good things for your heart, you’re doing good things for your brain,” Caudle said. “We don’t 100 percent know what causes it.”
Early onset of Alzheimer’s Disease shows a stronger familial relationship with others who have Alzheimer’s, Caudle added.
“It’s heartbreaking, no matter the age,” Caudle said. “I know a couple of folks that have very young children, others have children in college or high school.
Caudle stressed training of the caregivers.
“If a home health agency contacts us, I can provide an hour of training for free,” Caudle said. “Contact us to set it up. We want to do it.”
“Certainly, there’s always on-the-job training, especially at home,” Caudle said.
The disease of dementia and Alzheimer’s is so insidious, “just when you know where the person is in the disease process, something changes, so that’s a struggle, even for family members,” she added.
“With the memory care units, the training is so critical,” Caudle said, “because behavior can be very challenging, it’s just really critical for the care community to provide that training.”
The agency offers online training, and some assisted living units and care units also offer training.
The Alzheimer’s Association has paid staff members who conduct eight-hour training sessions for a fee.
“We have classes for families held on a fairly regular basis,” she said. “As long as caregivers are getting trained, that’s what we care about.”
ViewPointe Assisted Living at 555 S. Rockrimmon Blvd. is a Bethesda property with 18 apartments licensed for 32 beds in a secure, 24-hour environment.
“Memory care is where the growth is,” said Executive Director Elizabeth Henricks.
The arrangement allows for the business to accommodate a couple, or two residents can share a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment, Henricks said. Sharing an apartment increases affordability.
A one-bedroom memory care unit rents for $3,200 per month, while a companion suite rents for $2,600, she said.
ViewPointe also offers assisted living, independent living and short-term living arrangements. Of the 122 residents the business has living there, 15 are living in memory care units.
In August, New Dawn Memory Care broke ground on a new 24-hour secure unit at 4145 Briargate Parkway in Colorado Springs that it expects to open in April.
The development involves 48 beds in three cottages with 16 private apartments with private bathrooms.
New Dawn is headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., with assisted living units there and in Aurora as well. The company also expects to break ground later this year in Fort Collins.