Number of Americans with Alzheimer's could triple

Posted by Nick Dutton - email

(CBS) - The Alzheimer's Association believes the number of Americans with Alzheimer's or dementia could triple over the next 40 years. That has millions of families trying to figure out how to take care of their loved ones.

For Patricia Hernon, the decision to put her mother in an assisted living facility was an agonizing one.

"It took me a long time to realize that I needed the help because I felt it was my responsibility to take care of my mother," said Hernon.

Taking care of her mother became increasing difficult because not only is Virginia Rosano's body failing, so is her mind.

She suffers from dementia.

It's estimated some 5 million Americans have Alzheimers or dementia and the number is expected to skyrocket in the coming years.

So more and more facilities are setting up units specifically for these patients.

The Chelsea Assisted Living Residence in New Jersey has a dedicated floor with secured doors so patients can't wander out.

Residents have their own apartments.  But caretakers say it's important to keep them socially active.

"You want to try and maintain their independence, their integrity.   You want to try and offer them as many choices as you possibly can," said Annette Watson with the Chelsea Assisted Living Center.

But this level of care is costly.

Prices can range from 3 thousand to more than 6 thousand dollars a month.

The Alzheimer's Association says there are less expensive options.

Della Frazier-Rios with the Alzheimer's Association said, "There are things like home care, adult day care that are well established systems."

CBS News contributed this report.