Alzheimer care facility in Guatemala
Alzheimer’s disease affects some 50 million people worldwide. This number will almost double every 20 years, reaching 74.7 million in 2030 and 131.5 million in 2050. Every 67 seconds a new victim is diagnosed. Dr. Alois Alzheimer first identified the symptoms over a century ago, and yet despite tremendous investments in research, neither a prevention nor a cure has been found. Most research, as yet unsuccessful, is focused on slowing the progression of the disease. The effects of Alzheimer’s are of course life-changing for the patient and have a great impact as well on the family and the caregiver. If the patient is cared for at home, it takes such a physical toll that often the caregiver dies before the patient does.
The financial toll on families is equally devastating. Many of the disease’s victims lose their entire life’s savings in a matter of a few months of care, and their children often have to kick in to cover ever-rising costs. They in turn suffer financial hardship while trying to provide decent care for their loved one. There are the out-of-pocket expenses, and the principal caretaker may have to give up his/her job.
This is not a disease one can prepare for nor prevent, no matter how many Sudoku puzzles you do nor how many marathons you run. And it is terribly difficult for individuals and families to save sufficient money to sustain the ultimate costs, particularly if the victim lives in a care residence. Such well-run residences in the U.S. and Canada easily run $8,000-$10,000 per month.
So why are we writing such a depressing article? For two reasons: (1) there are an estimated 70,000 people in Guatemala suffering from Alzheimer’s; and (2) there will soon be a new and cutting-edge residence in Guatemala designed and built especially for such patients. The home is called the Casa de los Ángeles, located in Choacorral in San Lucas Sacatepéquez, midway between La Antigua Guatemala and Guatemala City.
The home is the realization of a group of friends who became seized with the scourge that is Alzheimer’s and the lack of any modern and affordable facilities available to address this tragic reality. Together and with several other financial investors, they created an extraordinary state-of-the-art residence providing 24/7 care for a total of 42 residents. The home is expected to open in early 2016, and will soon be seeking potential residents. They or their families will be paying charges of one-third to one-half what a similar residence in North America would cost, if indeed there WERE such a home. This is the first such place designed especially for Alzheimer’s/dementia patients in all of Central America, and possibly anywhere in the Americas.
The qualities that make this residence so special include green technology, inside/outside access for each of its three 14-resident sections, five-star furnishings, IP hookups for Skype or other communication with family members, handicap access, bilingual staff (including the gerontologist medical director), absolute security, therapies, top-notch cuisine, and its bucolic, wooded setting.
Casa de Los Angeles is likely to become a model for other state-of-the-art Alzheimer’s/dementia residences and put Guatemala on the map in a new, unexpected way.
To learn more about the home, visit www.casadelosangeles.org.gt/en/ or our Facebook page: casa de los angeles-alzheimer care. To make a personal visit, contact us locally at 4227-2911 or U.S. (305) 320-3790. FYI info, www.alz.org/facts/overview.asp