SAN ANTONIO — Dementia is a disease that affects not only the person who has it, but also their family and friends who often don't know how to deal with the illness.
Obesity, diabetes, and a sedentary lifestyle are all risk factors when it comes to dementia. With all three of those rising in numbers, the number of people being diagnosed with the disease is also rising more quickly.
James Lee, one of the owners and the CEO of Bella Groves, a dementia care facility, told us, "A lot of residents, family members, when they first came to join us, they thought, you know, this is the end of their life. And what they've found is that, you know, their lives are better, they're more joyful."
Lee says what needs to change is how people view dementia. He said, "I think most of the big box senior care facilities, they focus on care, which is important, but care is kind of secondary, in our opinion, to Joy. And so we're trying to dispel some fears and misconceptions about what dementia is."
Figuring out how to tap into what each person who has the disease is key. Lee added, "It doesn't mean that you're less of a person. It just means we have to communicate with you differently and we have to help and support you differently."
About seven million people are believed to have dementia in the U.S. as of 2020. If current health trends continue more than nine million Americans could have dementia by 2030, and 12 million by 2040.
We asked Lee what would be the main message he wants to get out with this story. His response, "You can absolutely have hope for their future. You can absolutely hope for great connections and new memories with your loved one. Dementia is not the end. It just changes the way that we're supposed to help that loved one."
Next week on Wear The Gown we'll meet two families dealing with dementia who tells us how getting the right kind of care has changed their lives.
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