SAN DIEGO, July 29, 2014 — When beloved late President Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States, died at age 93 from pneumonia and complications from Alzheimer’s disease in 2004, the world was devastated.
Officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1994, according to Wikipedia, late President Reagan notified our nation in a letter written in his own hand, “I have recently been told I am one of the millions of American who will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease…I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life.”
The following are a few of the large number of American celebrities whose lives were devastated by Alzheimer’s:
-Dana Andrews, actor
-Carroll Campbell, former Governor of South Carolina
-Perry Como, singer and television personality
-James Doohan, actor
-Thomas Dorsey, gospel music legend
-Arlene Francis, actress, radio and television personality
-Berry Goldwater, late Senator and presidential candidate from Arizona
-Rita Hayworth, actress
-Sugar Ray Robinson, boxer
-Charlton Heston, actor
Celebrities who have been stricken with Alzheimer’s highlight that this horrific disease can claim the lives of anyone, including those most revered for their talent, creativity, or intelligence.
Now reaching epidemic proportions as a national health care crisis, Alzheimer’s disease is indiscriminate and crosses all social and economic strata. No one is exempt.
With more than 5.2 million Americans believed to be suffering from Alzheimer’s in 2014, according to the Alzheimer’s Organization, more than 60% of its victims are reportedly women.
Women age 65 and older have a lifetime risk factor of 17.2%.
Considered the expensive health care condition in our country, the Alzheimer’s Organization suggest that in 2014 Alzheimer’s will cost our nation $150 billion to Medicare and Medicaid, with additional direct costs of approximately $214 billion to our overall society.
These expenditures do not include the additional cost of approximately $74 billion in out-of-pocket and other expenditures.
Once an individual has been diagnosed by a neurologist as having Alzheimer’s, it may be determined what particular stage this progressive disease has advanced to.
Middle Stage Alzheimer’s creates far more challenges than Early Stage, as there is significantly decreased cognitive ability, concentration and communication skills which become compromised and made complicated by increasing confusion and disorientation.
Ever-changing moods become more frequent.
Behaviors become intense, oftentimes exhibiting signs of ever-increasing anxiety, restlessness, hallucination and aggression.
Normal and routine activities of daily living such as bathing, eating, using the toilet, sleeping and the like will change dramatically as diminishing capacity will require greater help and assistance.
Since there is no cure for this debilitating and progressive disease, End Stage Alzheimer’s is most certainly the end of life, and it might require the assistance from a hospice and palliative care organization.
Consult a medical professional to provide the best-possible tools and expertise necessary for managing this horrible neurological disease such as medications, social supports, on-going medical follow-up, recommendations for social services, lifestyle parameters and recommendations, Alzheimer’s support and education, and the like to help meet the needs and changes caused by the various stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
It is imperative to become knowledgeable and empowered to face the devastating progression Alzheimer’s disease will inevitably create for the individual stricken with this disease, the family, and society and the global community.
In an excerpt from a letter bravely written by late President Ronald Reagan, included in his address to our nation at the advent of his Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, he stated, “I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead. Thank you, my friends. May God always bless you.”
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities Digital News” columnist, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.
In addition to writing for “Communities Digital News,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.
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