The Alzheimer’s Association is seeking community partners to provide input at a Stakeholder Kickoff Meeting as the first step in conducting a Community Needs Assessment on Alzheimer’s and Dementia in Orangeburg County. The meeting will be held from 5:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m., Thursday, June 13, 2024, at the Orangeburg County Council on Aging, 2570 St Matthews Road.

The purpose of this initial meeting is to plan a series of public forums to be held later this summer to hear directly from county residents impacted by Alzheimer’s or dementia, as well as from medical and long term care professionals. These forums will help identify unmet needs and potential solutions through community programming while generating awareness of current resources and driving volunteer involvement.

According to a nationwide model in the Alzheimer’s Association 2024 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, Orangeburg County ranks eighth in the nation for Alzheimer’s prevalence among counties with a population of 10,000 or more age 65 and older, with 15% of the population 65 and older estimated to be living with the disease.

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“This data demands action in Orangeburg County. No individual or family should have to face Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia alone,” said Cindy Alewine, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association South Carolina Chapter. “To meet surging community needs, we are working to build alliances with other local organizations that have strong connections with impacted individuals, particularly those who are historically underrepresented.”

According to the state’s Alzheimer’s Disease Registry, 2,019 individuals in Orangeburg County were living with ADRD as of 2021.

The South Carolina Alzheimer’s Disease Registry shows that 2,019 individuals in Orangeburg County were living with Alzheimer’s or related dementia (ADRD) as of 2021, the most recent year that complete data is available. Based on their numbers, African Americans were 28% more likely to have ADRD than their non-Hispanic white counterparts. Nearly 10% of dementia cases in Orangeburg County were people under age 65.

For the first time, researchers have identified a genetic form of late-in-life Alzheimer’s disease.

“With input from other stakeholders, we hope to spark an open conversation about the challenges facing families in an effort to bolster resources, programs and services to support the needs of the Orangeburg community,” said Alewine. “We hope that a diverse group of community partners will attend this stakeholder meeting, such as nonprofits, personal aides, civic and faith organizations, social workers for seniors, public servants, and home and community based service providers.”

Public forums will be held later this summer for residents of all ages to ask questions, share their experiences, learn about resources and discover volunteer opportunities to support families affected by this disease.

An estimated 6.9 million people age 65 and older in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s dementia, including 112,500 in South Carolina. This year the cost of caring for people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is projected to reach $360 billion — a $15 billion increase from a year ago. This does not include unpaid care provided by family caregivers and friends. Last year in South Carolina there were 219,000 dementia family caregivers, providing 361 million hours of unpaid care valued at over $5.5 billion.

In 2023, Governor McMaster signed into law the Alzheimer’s State Plan Act, which requires the South Carolina Department Aging to maintain a strategic, evidence-informed plan to address Alzheimer’s and related dementias, with annual reporting on progress presented to the legislature each year and a plan updated required every five years. The current Alzheimer’s State Plan for 2023-2028, published in March 2023, has a special focus on supportive services in the community to bring resources to those caregiving for the person with dementia.

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