That’s the goal for a new partnership between Davis County Senior Services of the Davis County Health Department and the Alzheimer’s Association of Utah.
It’s being funded from proceeds of the upcoming Davis County Gala, which already has a sizeable pledge amount, and federal aging funds.
“On Nov. 1, we will start setting up groups, set things up for training,” said Kim Cannon, program coordinator.
The partnership is multi-faceted. One aspect is housing an outreach office of the Alzheimer’s Association at the new Senior Activity Center adjacent to the new County Health Building in Clearfield.
In addition to serving as a resource/information center, there will be counseling services for caregivers and more.
Services will be aimed not only at those with “full-blown” Alzheimer’s and dementia, but those believed to be in early stages, said Nick Zullo, program director for the Alzheimer's Association.
“Davis County is going to be able to impact those with Alzheimer’s with early intervention, tracking, awareness programming to connect with those families,” he said.
Resources will also be drawn from the University of Utah Center for Care, Imaging and Research, which was established several years ago.
He said that treatment options and information about Alzheimer’s has grown tremendously. “This world is completely different for treatment than five years ago,” he said.
Some 89 percent of those with Alzheimer’s in the nation have not been diagnosed. Many times, families are in denial that it is impacting one of their own, Zullo said.
“These people deserve treatment and respect,” he said of those afflicted with the disease.
In fact, studies show one in eight people over the age of 65 will get Alzheimer’s and that average will rise to one in two for those over the age of 85.
“It is the health care crisis of the 21st Century,” Zullo said, with an estimated five million people in the nation having the disease now and more than 5,000 in Davis County.
“Utah is the fastest growing in the nation,” in terms of Alzheimer’s, he said.
“The demographics of Davis County, in an urban setting, are a microcosm of the state,” Zullo said.
“This will help caregivers know how to respond to behavior. there is so much training we can provide, validate for individuals, to lower tension and anxiety, increase quality of life,” he said.
A social support network of caregivers and families can be established, pre-and-post program testing conducted, the Alzheimer’s chief continued.
In a typical care giving situation, a spouse and another family member usually serve as primary caregivers, he said.
That equates to millions of dollars in value, at $11 an hour. It allows patients to stay in their homes, but also reduces financial strains on Medicaid, Medicare and other government and additional services.
It’s often possible to delay placement in a nursing home or other non-home care facility by up to 1 1/2 years, Zullo said.
“I would hope that through this program, with good nutrition, exercise, etc., we can support people so they can be living well with Alzheimer’s, get a good quality of life,” Cannon said.
She has extensive educational background and training in Alzheimer’s-related care and counseling.
More details about the program will be provided as they are available.