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Increased Understanding Called for During November National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month by Los Angeles Jewish Home's Medical Director
Date:11/9/2007

RESEDA, Calif., Nov. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The medical director of the famed Los Angeles Jewish Home is marking November's National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month by calling for increased understanding of an illness that is the 11th leading cause of death for adults age 65 and older and expected to grow even more widespread in coming years.

It's estimated that four million Americans have Alzheimer's disease; and unless a cure or significant treatment is found, it's predicted that as many as 14 million will have the disease by 2050. While the cause of Alzheimer's disease is still uncertain, researchers agree that the risk of developing the condition increases as a person ages.

"It's incredibly important while the search for a cure is underway," said Dr. Rick Smith, the Home's medical director, "that we understand how to correctly care for those afflicted with this difficult malady."

According to Smith, experts have long been aware that environment can play an important role in caring for Alzheimer's patients. Because Alzheimer's disease slowly and inexorably robs its victims of memory as well as both cognitive and motor skills, the warmth and reassurance of "home" is vitally important.

"Because Alzheimer's is an organic process and progresses over time," Smith explained, "early diagnosis can help individuals and their loved ones have as much time as possible to do the best they can with circumstances that are beyond their control."

Smith recommends working with a therapist who can provide information and support for the whole family. Therapy can provide crucial insight into what to next anticipate, how best to cope day by day, and ways to move through the inevitable mix of emotions, including loss, anger, hope, intensified love, frustration, alienation, helplessness, grief, and a "deepened awareness of both the power and the fragility of the human experience."

Alzheimer's signs to look for include:

-- Recent memory loss

-- Problems with language

-- Disorientation in time and space and getting confused or lost in a

familiar place

-- Difficulty completing familiar tasks

-- Distorted judgment

-- Problems with abstract thinking

-- Misplacing things

-- Repeated and sudden changes in mood and behavior

-- Changes in personality

-- Loss of initiative to do things

The Home's Goldenberg-Ziman Special Care Center is one of the most advanced Alzheimer's facilities in the world featuring many pioneering features ranging from architectural design to simulate a home-like setting to skylights to allow natural sunlight exposure that helps the body respond to its natural circadian rhythms to unique colored and patterned flooring intended to decrease the risk of serious injury from falls.

Founded in 1912, the world-renowned Los Angeles Jewish Home is one of the foremost continuing senior living facilities in the United States and is the largest single-source provider of senior housing in Los Angeles. In total the Home annually serves more than 2,000 seniors through an extraordinary continuum of services. Each year, more than 1,500 senior women and men are supported through in-residence housing on two village campuses (spanning 16 acres), with services featuring independent-living "Neighborhood Home" accommodations, residential care, skilled nursing care, Alzheimer's disease and dementia care. Another 700 seniors are served through the Home's community-based programs which include Skirball Hospice, home health care and community clinics. Healthcare professionals from around the world consult with the Jewish Home in an effort to improve eldercare in their home countries. The Home is a nonprofit organization that relies upon donations from individuals, corporations and foundations to continue its remarkable work. Further information regarding the Home can be found online at http://www.jha.org or by calling 818-757-4407.


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SOURCE Los Angeles Jewish Home
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