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Initiative to study dementia, promote educate spearheaded in Collier County

A new initiative will study how widespread dementia is in Collier County. The goal is to look at the possible increases as more people move to area. That’s just the start. This program not only will find out how many people and caregivers are affected by dementia, but it will also help educate people about the disease. It’s something caregivers who have lost a love one say is critical.

Community leaders have begun the Dementia Care and Cure Initiative to better understand the disease in Collier County.

“It’s identifying it’s not a mental illness but rather a cognitive problem and to help people understand some of the behaviors you might see in someone with dementia,” said Jaclynn Faffer, who is head of the initiative and CEO of Naples Senior Center.

Faffer is overseeing the study done by FGCU professor Tom Felke to help see the prevalence of the disease in Collier County.

“The more seniors we have here the more important it is to understand this disease,” Faffer said.

Understanding how the disease affects loved ones afflicted with it and caregivers responsible for them is something Brian Bremer knows very much about.

“Dementia is a piece of a person lost every day,” Bremer said. “You have to get a grip on the fact that it ain’t going to get better.”

Bremer lost his wife, Merry, of 38 years a year ago to dementia

“The problem with dementia is that you know it’s gonna be worse every day, Bremer explained. “So the demands, it’s a constant pressure.”

Faffer says every 1 in 9 older adults are diagnosed with dementia.

Felke told us they will begin their secondary data analysis in December, and the first official meeting of the dementia initiative task force will be next month.

“Getting a handle on the extent of the disease in Collier is critical,” Bremer said. “It’s not only the person that has the disease. It’s the family members and their spouses.”

Reporter:Taylor Smith
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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