Dementia the fourth-leading cause of death in the Richmond region | Health |

2022-07-30 07:51:35 By : Ms. Valley Yin

Deaths per 100,000 residents from 1999 to 2020

Off Robius Road in North Chesterfield, a room of older adults at Anthology in Midlothian sit around a table singing “You Are My Sunshine." In the cafeteria, many are eating the residents' choice meal of the week: bologna burgers.

The center offers assisted living and memory care. They house many people with all types of dementia, most of whom are in the early stages, said Leslie Jones, the executive director. She began volunteering at nursing homes when she was 14, and helping people with dementia became even more of a passion after seeing it impact her aunt and grandmother.

“Dementia, I think, is one of the worst diagnoses because it's a slow death,” Jones said. “You lose a piece of that person every day, and I personally am very passionate about the dignity and care in the life of someone with dementia.”

Matthew Barrett, a VCU Health neurologist

Dementia is the fourth-leading cause of death in the Richmond region. The ranking is based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and analyzed by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. 

Dementia is defined by the CDC as a general term for impaired ability to remember, think or make decisions. It encompasses a group of conditions characterized by the impairment of numerous brain functions, like memory loss and judgment.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia, is the seventh leading cause of death in the country, according to CDC data. Dementia may be a leading cause of death in the region, but there are numerous causes for dementia as well – many of which are treatable — according to Matthew Barrett, a VCU Health neurologist.

“There are some important causes of dementia that are not Alzheimer's disease and not degenerative in that an evaluation with a primary care provider or neurologist would be helpful in excluding some of those,” Barrett said.

The number of dementia-related deaths has been on the rise since 1999, growing from 102 then to 452 deaths in 2020 – with its peak reaching 557 deaths in 2014. In 2020, more than 450 people died from dementia, including 70 Richmond residents. The majority of the region’s dementia-related deaths came from Henrico that year, with 171 deaths.

The prevalence of dementia also varies across different populations, according to the Virginia Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Commission’s Dementia State Plan for 2020-2024. Women make up more than 60% of all people aged 65 or over living with dementia – an estimated 16% aged 71 or over have some form of dementia compared to 11% of men.

Older African-Americans are twice as likely to have dementia than white people – Hispanic people are 1 1/2 as likely, according to the state plan. Age, it reads, is the most important risk factor for Alzheimer’s.

“Individuals experiencing the cognitive changes are often unaware of it, and this is especially the case for Alzheimer's disease,” Barrett said. “And so in that situation, it's really the family members or other people close to the individual that recognize the changes and pursue medical evaluations. For individuals that live alone, which has become more common sometimes as people get older, they can certainly go a long time without the symptoms of cognitive decline being recognized – until maybe they get to a point of a crisis.”

At the Dementia Society of America, that point of crisis is what they try to prevent. The non-profit and volunteer-based organization works to make people aware of what is – and isn’t – dementia, founder Kevin Jameson said.

Through education, providing research grants, recognizing caregivers and partnering with local non-profit groups, the Dementia Society of America is working to reduce the stigma, Jameson said.

“In many cases, they don't want to talk about it,” he said. “And so they don't get the care they need, don't get the workup they need to determine a diagnosis and many doctors are not prepared for how to deal with their patients that may have it – especially primary care physicians. So we're really all about changing the dialogue and the message around dementia so that people are more willing to talk about it.”

Research regarding dementia treatment, including Alzheimer’s, is continuing to develop today, Barrett said. Recognizing that changes in the brain were influencing Alzheimer’s disease was just one of the biggest developments of the last two decades.

Dementia itself also has a large impact on the individual, but it often changes the lives of a person’s family members, too, Jameson said. Since the diseases causing dementia are progressive, what is normal one week becomes the exception the next week.

One of the residents under Jones’ care is Lorraine Tracy, 75, who was sitting in one of the quiet niches of the building. She said she had Lewy body dementia.

“I was probably having them [symptoms] long, long before I realized it,” Tracy said. “My kids would always tell me, ‘Mom, we told you that yesterday,’ or something would happen and they would remind me they already told me that.”

Tracy described losing her train of thought and trying to remember things that seemed like they were at the back of her head. She said it got worse at night, when she had been busy all day and was tired or distracted. She also said she had fallen 15 different times, according to her count.

“If I’m up all day and I'm trying to do something – I mean, it's a disaster,” she said.

Tracy said she's taking it one day at a time. Her advice to those who show any signs of dementia? Seek help. 

“Go see a doctor – it doesn’t take that long,” she said.

In October 1980, Ronald Reagan, at the time the Republican nominee for president, hoisted Brady Spindel, 8, of Portsmouth, during a rally at the Norfolk Scope coliseum. More than 4,000 Reagan supporters attended.

In February 1969, Medical College of Virginia nursing students Marsha Penney (left) and Martha Mooney checked equipment. They had joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in June 1968, and the Army was covering their tuition, room and board at MCV in Richmond. After graduation, they would begin transitioning from civilian to military life with five weeks of basic training in Texas.

In September 1959, stable hand Garfield Tillman walked award-winning racehorse First Landing through Meadow Stable, the Caroline County operation of horse owner Christopher T. Chenery. First Landing, the U.S. champion 2-year-old colt in 1958, had been convalescing after an illness.

In April 1948, James Phillips Schultz supervised a mumbletypeg game played by two youths at the Richmond Home for Boys. Schultz, 81, was the oldest alumnus of the home. To celebrate the institution’s 102nd birthday, alumni, families and children gathered for an afternoon program that included music , games and dancing for the youths.

In March 1969, St. Mary’s Hospital nurses used the Teachmobile, a cart that moved among floors and allowed workers to learn without relying on large group gatherings. Jeanne W. Orr (left), director of the hospital’s continuing education program, designed the cart with display boards and a tape-recorded lecture. With her is Mary Anne Cook. The Teachmobile was constructed from a flower cart by the hospital’s carpenter.

In August 1954, members of the Richmond Civic Ballet rehearsed for an upcoming performance. The open-membership volunteer group, which presented roughly a dozen performances annually at local events, was organized almost four years earlier by local former professional dancers Betty Carper Grigg and John Hurdle.

In January 1964, traffic on East Broad Street in Richmond moved slowly after the city received more than 4 inches of snow.

In April 1977, workmen removed the fountain from its foundation in Monroe Park in Richmond. A replacement, cast from a mold of the old one, was to be made by an iron company in Alabama and installed during the summer.

In May 1978, owner Jim Thayer stood outside Borkey’s store on Atlee Road in Hanover County. He planned to highlight the store’s more than 100-year history by ordering products that were sold there in the early days.

In April 1978, students from Huguenot High School in Richmond worked with director Dave Anderson on a public television series called “As We See It.” Financed by a federal grant, the series shed light on school desegregation across America, with students contributing scripts for scenes. The Huguenot segment was titled “The Riot that Never Was” and included a re-enactment of a tense moment in the cafeteria during the previous school year, which ultimately was resolved.

In January 1956, the Boys Club of Richmond expanded by purchasing the house next door to its North Robinson Street location. Options for the new space included more offices, a library, kitchen, meeting quarters and a basement rifle range. The price of the new building was $10,000.

In November 1978, African-American women gathered for a beauty clinic at the Thalhimers at Eastgate Mall in Richmond. The clinic, sponsored by Fashion Fair, brought in beauty professionals, including Pearl Hester (standing at right), to demonstrate makeup techniques.

This May 1965 image shows a section of East Broad Street in downtown Richmond after an evening storm.

In September 1941, amid a nationwide gas shortage, Harry J. Donati (left) and Joseph G. Robben drove their horse-drawn carriage down 25th Street in Church Hill in Richmond.

In November 1980, a 1922 firetruck with extension hose was on display at Engine Co. 20 on Forest Hill Avenue in South Richmond. The vehicle, which was in service until 1958, deteriorated for years until local residents and businesses volunteered to restore it.

In October 1987, Lee Lockwood, 5, rode on the back of a pony village cart driven by Laura Crews (right) and his aunt, Grace Battisto, at Maymont in Richmond. They were attending the park’s Victorian Day, a lawn party highlighting turn-of-the-century life.

In September 1961, the Bellevue Theater marquee on MacArthur Avenue in North Side still read “Closed for the Winter.” Neighborhood Theatre Inc. said there were no plans to reopen the theater, closed since 1960. It became home to the New Dominion Barn Dance, a country music radio show.

This June 1964 image shows Buchanan School in Richmond’s East End a day before its scheduled demolition. The school opened in 1912. In 1964, the property was purchased by the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority as part of the 17th Street Redevelopment Project. The almost 600 students were transferred to the new Mosby School .

In December 1986, Irene Dameron stood behind the counter of her Westmoreland County shop with regulars (from left) Bob Prather, Ben Allen and Bob Sanford. Dameron had run the shop for 28 years — she had taken over the business from her father, who ran it for 33 years before that. Though the store’s inventory had been reduced, her loyal customers came in almost every day to pass time, action Dameron encouraged by having benches and chairs in the shop.

In June 1951, square dance caller Richard Chase taught playground directors some steps in preparation for a dance scheduled for the Byrd Park tennis courts in Richmond as part of Park and Recreation Week. The program was organized by the city and sponsored by Thalhimers.

In December 1947, Charles C. Slayton (left), president of the Society of American Magicians, was the target of a card trick when Dan Friedman pulled an oversized deck of cards from Slayton’s vest pocket during an event at The Jefferson Hotel .

On Valentine’s Day 1989, a 50-foot-wide heart hung from the columns of the state Capitol’s south portico in Richmond. The oversized valentine was created to mark the 20th anniversary of the “Virginia is for Lovers” advertising campaign.

This May 1947 image shows a street scene on Main Street near Ninth Street in downtown Richmond. At the time, cars shared the road with electric streetcars. Two years later, with the increase in buses and automobiles, the streetcar system was replaced.

In July 1940, a Richmond Colts batter headed to first base while a teammate scored in a victory over the Norfolk Tars in a Piedmont League game at Tate Field, which was on Mayo Island in Richmond.

In September 1972, Rudy Peele (left) and Al Sanders shared a laugh at the Virginia Squires rookie tryout camp in Richmond. About 16 players were expected at the camp, including four who were invited after doing well at an open tryout in Norfolk the previous week. That tryout attracted 81 players who hoped to join the American Basketball Association team.

In March 1964, Native American children left the two-room state-funded school on the Mattaponi Reservation in King William County. An accompanying article reviewed population trends among Virginia’s Indian tribes; there were 22 Mattaponi and Pamunkey children attending the school at the time.

In August 1947, patrons of a Richmond laundromat played bridge while their clothing was in the machines. The new coin-operated laundry facilities saved time, as a half-day chore without machines at home was reduced to a 30-minute cycle. The laundromat also became a social gathering place.

In June 1943, a sign posted in the elevators of the Atlantic Life Insurance Co. in downtown Richmond challenged tradition by asking men to keep their hats on to speed elevator service and allow for more room.

Email notifications are only sent once a day, and only if there are new matching items.

The Times-Dispatch analyzed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data to determine the leading causes of death for area residents. 

The CDC data also shows accidental overdoses are approximately twice as likely to kill in the Richmond area than the rest of the nation.

“For me, the sad part about lung cancer is that we have new tools to fight lung cancer, we have screening now, since 2010, that we didn’t have before to screen for lung cancer."

In 2012, Frances Givens, of Bon Air, began to feel dizzy while coming out of a department store. She didn’t pass or fall down. There were no h…

Deaths per 100,000 residents from 1999 to 2020

Matthew Barrett, a VCU Health neurologist

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