Statistics show that one in eight people over the age of 65 and one in three over the age of 85 have a form of dementia, according to Amy French, manager of programs for the Alzheimer's Association.
Educating and empowering the local community about the in's and out's of dementia is what the Memory Fair hosted by Hickory Valley: A Senior Living Community is all about. While the local assisted living facility does not specialize in dementia care, Resident Care Director Nena Mitchell explained that you cannot separate geriatrics and dementia related illnesses.
"The two really go hand in hand," she said. "There's a lot of misinformation out there, and [the Memory Fair] is our way of getting the right information into the hands of the community that uses it every day," she added.
The event is Tuesday, May 20 beginning at 5:30 p.m. There is no admission fee, and the general public is invited. French assists with the annual event, which got started when Mitchell noticed that many locals didn't have some valuable resources and answers that they needed for their loved ones.
"With [dementia] numbers that high, we know this event is something everyone can benefit from, both for caregivers and patients," French said.
Mitchell said one of the most astonishing misconceptions in the public is a belief that living to age 70 or 75 without dementia symptoms means one can avoid the disease. "That couldn't be farther from the truth," she said. "Your odds actually increase the older you get."
As dementia is something that crosses all boundaries and affects all demographics, there is great value in teaching family members and caregivers how to appropriately and meaningfully communicate and interact with those who have the illness, said Mitchell.
"Some people think that once Alzheimer's has set in, then that means 'that's it,' so to speak," she explained. "That's not true. You can have meaningful interaction and communication if you know the right techniques, and that's what this event is all about."
A panel of guest speakers drives the event hosted by Hickory Valley. Dr. Matthew Kodsi will kick off the session with an update on what's on the forefront in the field and what professionals are getting excited about regarding treatment of dementia. From there, other panelists covering very gamut of the spectrum will open the floor for questions from the audience.
"We have a geriatric psych nurse, an occupational therapist, a social worker, a home health care provider, representatives from The Lantern and more on our panel this year," Mitchell said. "Audience members ask questions and anyone can give an answer, which generates great ideas for people to take home."
Mitchell noted that the goal is for everyone to leave with at least one new tool or idea to help them on their journey against dementia, whether they are a caregiver or patient. Hors d'oeuvres will be served, and the session runs until about 8 p.m.
"We want people to know that [dementia] doesn't have to be shrouded in mystery," French said. "We're all pioneers, and we're all learning together. There are resources out there to help you."
For more information about the Memory Fair or to RSVP, call Hickory Valley: A Senior Living Community at 423-855-0508.
• Nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high; more than one-third report symptoms of depression.
• Today, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, including an estimated 200,000 under the age of 65. By 2050, up to 16 million will have the disease.
• Another American develops Alzheimer's disease every 67 seconds. In 2050, an American will develop the disease every 33 seconds.