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UCLA launches unique, comprehensive Alzheimer's and dementia care program

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Published on Mar 14, 2012

Alzheimer's disease affects an estimated 5.4 million persons in the United States, some 480,000 of them in California alone. Almost half of people age 85 and older will be stricken. Moreover, the burden of dementia is even higher as Alzheimer's disease accounts only for 60 to 80 percent of cases of dementia. And as devastating as these disorders are to those afflicted, the illnesses also have a tremendous impact on the people in those patients' lives—family members, friends and caregivers.

To that end, UCLA is launching the new UCLA Alzheimer's and Dementia Care program that will provide comprehensive, coordinated care, resources and support to patients and their caregivers, who are often family members.

Patti Davis, daughter of President Reagan and a long-time advocate in the fight against the disease, will be an integral member of the program. With Linda Ercoli, director of geriatric psychology in the UCLA Division of Geriatric Psychiatry, Davis will co-lead support groups for families affected by the disease—something with which she is all too familiar.

"It's a role I'm familiar with because my family went through a decade of my father's illness under the glare of the public spotlight," Davis said. "The program of support groups will do a lot to ease the loneliness and fear that comes with being in a family with Alzheimer's."

The UCLA Alzheimer's and Dementia Care program will have three main components: creation of a dementia registry; a needs assessment of patients listed in the registry; and individualized dementia care plans based on those assessments.

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