Saturday, September 19th is San Francisco’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s. As of this writing, there are over 300 teams registered with close to 2300 walkers. In addition to the walk, there will be:
- Music and performances on the main stage as well as along the 3 mile route.
- A Kids Camp with fun activities like face painting and arts & crafts.
- Booths for walk sponsors and partners with information about local programs and services.
San Francisco is one of more than 600 communities across the United States to host an annual walk. In addition to raising public awareness, the walk raises money to support the Alzheimer’s Association’s initiatives related to care, support, and research.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.3 million Americans are estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease. Over 600,000 live in California and by 2030 this is projected to be over 1 million. In San Francisco, the number of people age 55 and older with Alzheimer’s is projected to increase by 54% from about 17,000 in 2008 to almost 27,000 in 2030. In some parts of the state, the increase will be even greater.
People caring for someone with Alzheimer’s make up about 11% of the total informal caregivers in the United States. In California alone, there are 1.1 million people providing unpaid care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
People with memory problems and dementia need more help with personal care than those with other problems. Over 75% of care recipients with dementia need help with shopping; preparing meals, doing laundry or cleaning house; and financial matters. Over half need help with medical needs; arranging for care or services; and dressing, eating, bathing or getting to the bathroom. Caregivers in California spend a median of 14 hours a week providing care and receive about 10 hours of help a week from others. Because Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias tend to progress slowly, individuals need care for many years.
While caregiving can be very satisfying, it can also create emotional stress, physical strain, financial hardship, and interrupt sleep. A higher proportion of those caring for someone with memory problems or dementia tend to experience these issues more and rate their overall health lower than people caring for someone with other types of problems.
Finding good supportive services is key to providing quality care to the individual suffering from Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
Seniorly.com is one resource for when it’s time to find housing that provides memory care. It allows you to tailor your search to best meet your needs from location and cost to housing tailored specifically to residents with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Currently there are over 50 residences listed that provide memory care throughout the San Francisco area with a range of costs, number of residents, and amenities.
Other services can be found through the Alzheimer’s Association Community Resource Finder which lets you search by zip code, city, or county.
- Education programs. Online and face-to-face programs on a range of topics such as what to expect and care strategies, legal and financial planning, and living with Alzheimer’s for caregivers and persons with the disease. The Savvy Caregiver is a 6-part workshop that provides clinical-level training for family caregivers. Registration is required, but the event is free.
- Support groups. Recurring online and face-to-face groups for both caregivers and people with dementia.
- Early stage programs. A variety of educational and support programs specifically for people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
- Care at home. Resources for finding in-home care providers, adult day centers, and other services to help caregivers keep their loved one at home for as long as possible.
- Medical services. Resources for home care, home health, hospice, and hospitals.
- Community services. A variety of community resources such as Area Agencies on Aging, elder law attorneys, transportation, and referral services.
- The Northern California and Northern Nevada chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. The chapter has nine offices serving 58 counties. In addition to a variety of education and support resources on the chapter website they have a telephone helpline available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 800-272-3900.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is frightening, but you don’t have to face it alone. These are just some of the ways you can connect to a community of service providers and others who are facing similar struggles.
For more information on Alzheimer's support and volunteering, visit the Seniorly Resource Center and browse through our "Memory Care" category.