Of the estimated five million Americans with Alzheimers, 590,000 of them live in California, according to a recent report from the Alzheimer's Association. This means that California had the largest number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimers in 2015. The number is projected to grow to 840,000 in 2055 as the population ages, the report says.
Vida A. Gwinn, the Regional Administrator of LA County of Silverado Memory Care Community, who has been working with people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related problems for 16 years, agrees with the report. “We had a long waiting-list when we only had 30 beds at the Alhambra community. It gets better since we just double sized the beds but will be filling up in the next couple of weeks,” said Gwinn. The company is investing $6 million for expansion, renovations and remolding to accommodate more families in need from the local community. "We even cooperated with a Feng Shui specialist for the renovations to be respectful to people's culture in Alhambra," she added.
Dementia is a challenging disease without an effective treatment to cure or slow the progression. Patients may be prone to wandering and getting lost. Language may also be effected. “Some residents would forget about English and revert to their mother tongue,” said Gwinn. It could be a problem for some caregivers at home in an immigrant community, like Alhambra, where many older generations are from Mexico or China, but their decedents can only speak a few words of Spanish or Chinese.
The complicated situation may extend to care-givers as well. Nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high, and about 40 percent suffer from depression, according to the report.
Women are more likely to develop Alzheimer's than men; two thirds of Americans with Alzheimers are women. Older African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely than older whites to have Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. While most of Alzheimer affected people are non-Hispanic white Americans, the report says.
In spite of the complications of care giving, many family members intend to take care of their loved ones at home instead of sending them to memory care facilities due to financial and cultural concerns. The cultural factor may be very significant for Asian families, as it is seen as a tenant of filial piety to take care of seniors and keep them at home for the duration of their lives. “We have 30 residents in total, but only three Asian residents so far,” said Maria Quizon, administrator of The Huntington Memory Care Community. Quizon says that 90% of their residents are Caucasians from more affluent areas around Alhambra.
Taking care of people with Alzheimer’s disease may be expensive, at both the individual and national levels. Rates at The Huntington Memory Care Community start at $250 per day. “It is an all inclusive rate. Some other assisted living facilities charge a basic rate but would charge additional fees if the residents’ situations get worse and need more assistance,” said Gwinn. It is estimated that, in 2015, Alzheimer's care will cost the nation $226 billion. Half of the costs are borne by Medicare, according to the report.
Gwinn said she hopes people from the local community will use the Huntington Memory Care Community as a free resource as well. “People don’t have to move in. If they have questions regarding dementia and Alzheimer, they can give us a call. We would love to share our expertise and knowledge with them,” she said. And they will have some support groups for family members as well.
For more information about dementia and Alzheimer's disease, visit Alzheimer Association. Or call the 24/7 Helpline: 1 (800) 272-3900
The Huntington Memory Care is located on 1118 N Stoneman Ave, Alhambra, CA 91801.
Phone: (626) 308-9777