We are honored to have our guest Karla Hult on today’s Thrive For[e]ward podcast. Karla is not only the founder of So Many Goodbyes but a Reporter at KARE 11 and Adjunct Professor at St. Olaf College. She is also a mother to two wonderfully talented girls and a daughter to a father who lost his battle to Alzheimer’s.
In 2010, Karla was just becoming a new mom when her dad was diagnosed with Alzheimers. Fast forward ten years and Karla is still on mission today is to have everyone know that they are not alone when caring for their loved ones fighting the battle of dementia and Alzheimers. So Many Goodbyes offers mentorships to families currently on the course of this disease as well as workshops for long-term care centers to help bridge the communication divide between families and caregivers.
As I mentioned in my last episode, $388 billion dollars is what the Alzheimer’s disease costs America as a whole EVERY YEAR, and is only increasing as we have an aging population. When Karla says “You are not alone” she is not just referencing those personally affected by a family or friend battling this disease. Even if you think you don’t have a connection to the disease, you do.
If you are a taxpayer, if you want better healthcare, you have a connection to this disease. It affects us all globally and impacts our communities.
Did you know that by 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia is projected to reach 12.7 million?
So, what you think might not affect you or someone you know now, it easily could in the near future.
Prevalence of Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias in the United States
• Based on updated calculations, an estimated 6.2 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2021
• Seventy-two percent are age 75 or older
Of the total U.S. population:
• More than 1 in 9 people (11.3%) age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s dementia.
• The percentage of people with Alzheimer’s dementia increases with age: 5.3% of people age 65 to 74, 13.8% of people age 75 to 84, and 34.6% of people age 85 and older have Alzheimer’s dementia.
• People younger than 65 can also develop Alzheimer’s dementia, but it is much less common and prevalence is uncertain.
Karla and I have shared so many stories of our journey as mothers and as daughters with fathers with Alzheimer’s. When I asked Karl for her advice on how those like us can find support and resources, she said to look around you, see who is in your village and explore the resources within your community. She stated again that you can’t do it alone.
Each journey with this disease is different for everyone affected including the family and caregivers. It’s not just the mental limitations that one faces but physical limitations as well. Their needs and support requirements will vary.
“This disease takes everything. Robbing first the mind and eventually the body” as Karla mentioned in this episode of the podcast.
We know that the things we take for granted we now see our loved ones not able to do. I remember this vividly with my dad tying his shoes and then transitioning to pants that do not have zippers. I remember wearing my athleisure pants with no zippers the night I brought him his new “cool/hip” pants. This is just another example of the ongoing goodbyes we face. After all as a parent you are usually the one that teaches your children to tie their shoes and no seeing that unravel for our aging loved ones if a hard process.
If you are facing this disease with a family member or loved one, Karla offers three important suggestions:
1. Reach out to a specific organization who deals with this disease, join a support group, sign up for emails, do something concrete related to outreach and education.
2. Throughout your journey try to recognize that you need to preserve your OWN identity. Carve out time to reflect on what you need professionally and personally. It is okay for you to ask for time for yourself.
3. Be present in a way that feels appropriate for your relationship with the personal battling this disease. Again, this will look different for every caregiver and their relationship for the person they are caring for.
At Forethought Planning, we continue to support Alzheimer’s Association on their mission to find a cure. CLICK to learn more how how you can join us!
GET IN TOUCH WITH KARLA
Email: [email protected]
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