Alzheimer's survey shows it's the disease most feared, tops cancer

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WPDE) - There are a number of diseases that are deadly, but a new survey show Alzheimer's is the one people fear the most, even topping cancer. More than half of the people surveyed by the Marist Institute say they feel unprepared to care for a loved one diagnosed with the disease.

"There's an estimated 35 and a half million cases worldwide, and here in the United States alone are five and a half million of those cases. Locally, there's 80,000 cases here in South Carolina, and only about half of those are in nursing homes. So families have a huge concern because they're caring for family members," explains Melissa Tresslar with Home Instead Senior Care.

Tresslar says according to the World Health Organization the number of those diagnosed with Alzheimer's is expected to double in the next 15 years.

Tresslar knows first hand what it's like when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Through her work with Home Instead Senior Care, she helps educate families who are dealing with the disease.

"Alzheimer's Disease is one of the top 10 causes of death, and it's the only top ten cause of death that has no treatment or no cure at this point in time," she says. "Alzheimer's Disease leads to nerve cell death and tissue loss in the brain. A person living with Alzheimer's, it affects thinking, behavior, movement, pretty much every aspect of life. And to keep that person engaged in life and to manage the difficult behaviors that come along with that thinking and memory issue, we teach the techniques to help family members manage those and for that senior to have a fulfilling life at home."

According to Tresslar, studies show only about five percent of cases of Alzheimer's are hereditary. When they are, the disease tends to progress quickly.

Because of the growing concern, they're offering workshops to help families who are the primary caregivers. Home Instead Senior Care is holding its next free workshop for families November 28 at 2 p.m. To reserve your seat call (843) 357-9777.

But if home care is too much, place like Brightwater are available. The assisted living facility has a special wing devoted to patients with dementia. Because of the needs of these patients, Brightwater offers specialized care.

"They're still loving they're still giving. That's the beautiful side of it. Even though they may not remember what they had for lunch today, they still love hugs. They're still thoughtful of each other, and they still like to do activities," says Charlene Adelstone with Brightwater.

Brightwater offers support groups for families.

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