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By Patti Davis
Alzheimer's disease affects an estimated 5.4 million people in the U.S., some 480,000 of them in California. Nearly half of all people 85 and older will be stricken with the disease. The overall burden of dementia is still higher, with Alzheimer's accounting for only 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.
Yet as devastating as these disorders are to the afflicted, they also have a tremendous impact on family members, friends and caregivers. And while many health systems provide excellent care, and community-based organizations offer supportive services, no comprehensive programs exist to meet patients' health needs and the needs of those around them.
Family members are often at a loss to find appropriate care and services for their loved ones, and they typically have few, if any, resources to help them navigate their way through the complex health care system.
"UCLA already has top-notch geriatrics, neurology, psychiatry and primary care clinical services," said Dr. David Reuben, chief of UCLA's geriatrics division. "But we do not have a comprehensive, coordinated dementia care program. As a result, the many needs of UCLA patients with dementia and their families are commonly unmet."