Tackling the terror of dementia

More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, a number that could rise as high as 16 million by 2050. One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. These diseases take a heavy toll on loved ones, especially those who are caregivers. They also are a financial burden: In 2017, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $259 billion, a number that’s only expected to rise.

Landing victim to dementia is a terrifying prospect for most people. To foster understanding about these diseases and strategies for coping with them, Calvin Community Foundation and Des Moines University are offering “Embrace Aging,” a series of educational conversations on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias that begins Feb. 20. Local and national experts will cover topics including brain wellness, palliative care, financial realities and the emotional challenge.

The seven-part series will culminate on April 18 with a presentation, “The Importance of Storytelling,” by Anne Basting, Ph.D. An educator, scholar, artist and author, she has developed and researched methods for embedding the arts into long-term care, with a focus on people with cognitive disabilities like dementia. Named a 2016 MacArthur Fellow, Basting is also the recipient of a Rockefeller Fellowship, a Brookdale National Fellowship and numerous major grants.

The “Embrace Aging” series will take place in Des Moines University’s Student Education Center Auditorium, 3200 Grand Ave. There is no cost to attend, and no registration is required for people who attend in person. An online option also is available. The series has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit, AOA Category 2-A Credit, CPME contact hours and nursing contact hours.

Special thanks for the series go to the Alzheimer’s Association, American Enterprise Group, Arbor Springs, Broadlawns Geriatric and Memory Center, The Hale Group, Syverson Strege and Company, Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center and Polk County.