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Back to School With Alzheimer’s

Posted on: 2016 09 27

Alzheimer’s in School back to schoolIt’s September - school is back in session and I recently came across a few articles I want to share. The first, from Colorado Public Radio about intergenerational learning where a group of seventh graders in Denver were involved in a service learning project featuring seniors with Alzheimer’s. The second article is within the first one as a link to England’s Intergenerational Schools Project. In 2012, the UK Alzheimer’s Society began working on the Dementia4Schools Project as part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia. The project has become a comprehensive (and accredited) model for education in the classroom and in the community too. There are now hundreds of schools in England termed “dementia-friendly”. The third features an inner-city charter school in Cleveland where residents of a local retirement community, including those with Alzheimer’s, are volunteers. These are the facts: • More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and that number is growing fast. • Every 66 seconds someone in the United States develops the disease. • One in nine people age 65 and older has Alzheimer's disease. • It is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. and is the only disease among the top 10 causes of death that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. It is the 6th leading cause of death here. Integrating Alzheimer’s education into the school curriculum makes so much sense, as we can see from the facts above, Alzheimer’s affects almost everyone in the U.S. directly or indirectly. Through education, our children would develop compassion and empathy while removing the isolation or stigma that having a family member with Alzheimer’s might otherwise cause. In addition, students would learn valuable social skills and create connections with a different generation. These connections would also benefit the older participant. Resources for Kids (and You) Even though we do not have a call to action here in the United States to educate our kids about Alzheimer’s in school, there are resources for you, your family and beyond. These are from the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center at the National Institute on Aging. Here are videos and resources for children and young people from the “Life with Alzheimer’s Disease” section of the Alzheimer’s Association website. Use the left column navigation to select books and videos by age.   Back to the facts: unfortunately, by 2050, someone in the United States will develop the disease every 33 seconds and the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer's disease may nearly triple, from 5.2 million to a projected 13.8 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent or cure the disease. With this in mind, we owe it to every citizen to increase awareness and understanding for those moving through the stages of Alzheimer’s and their families, friends, neighbors and communities.

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