There are rapidly expanding number of people with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias in Arizona, which challenges our health care and community-based service systems to develop innovative and effective ways to provide high-quality care and services. Currently more than 120,000 Arizonans age 65 and older have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and an estimated 6,000 younger adults have the disease. Arizona is projected to experience a 67 percent increase in the number of people between 2015 and 2025.
Alzheimer’s Disease impairs memory, language, visual skills, abstraction ability, judgment, personality, and emotional health. There are an estimated 300,000 family members in Arizona who are caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s Disease dementia. They often juggle work and other family responsibilities with their caregiving tasks. Current treatments are not a cure but can have important benefits, including helping manage difficult behaviors that are sometimes prevalent in late-stages of dementia.
People with Alzheimer’s Disease and caregivers can participate in creative engagements including: hobbies, social events, community projects, and support groups offered by the Alzheimer’s Association, the Area Agencies on Aging, and the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium. Individuals and caregivers should also decrease risky behaviors such as smoking or alcohol abuse.
To help Arizonans—both patients and caregivers—deal with the impact of Alzheimer’s Disease, our Healthy Aging Program in the Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease is working to raise public awareness of early warning signs, looking for innovative community-based treatment modalities, and expanding the role of caregivers while also reducing the stress that too often interferes with their health and mortality.