November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month
When Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in 1983, fewer than two million Americans had this disease. Now, over five million have been diagnosed, and over 10 million care for someone with this disease.
This statistic is troubling, and sadly, as the population continues to age, it will become more significant.
That is why it is so important for seniors and their loved ones to learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease, its risk factors, preventative measures, and treatment.
During National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, take time to learn more about this illness, and raise awareness with those around you.
The more information we know about it, the more people can take steps to protect their health both mentally and physically.
Alzheimer’s Disease Explained
Every 70 seconds, a new patient is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the U.S.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, making up about 60-80% of cases. Besides causing problems with memory, thinking, and behavior, it is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
As it progresses, Alzheimer’s grows worse and will eventually lead to the inability to perform routine tasks.
Initially, it might begin with moderate memory problems. But as it advances, it causes a lack of awareness of a person’s environment. Patients may even be unable to communicate.
A mix of health factors can affect an Alzheimer’s patient’s longevity. Once symptoms are apparent, the average life expectancy is eight years. However, some have lived as many as 20 years.
Alzheimer’s is more likely to occur in seniors older than 65, although early-onset Alzheimer’s affects thousands under that age.
Is There a Cure For Alzheimer’s Disease?
Research is continuously underway to find answers for Alzheimer’s patients and their families, but sadly, there is no cure yet. But, some treatments have the possibility of slowing its growth.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
Knowing the signs of Alzheimer’s disease will help you notice changes in your loved one.
While there may not be a cure, catching it early on can make a huge difference in the care and treatment your loved one will receive.
During National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, take a moment to learn these symptoms:
- Memory loss: Your loved one might forget dates, events, things they’ve learned, or repeatedly ask for the same information.
- Losing items and an inability to retrace steps: As your loved one forgets other things, they might start misplacing belongings and be unable to backtrack to remember where it could be. This might cause your loved one to blame those around them of stealing because they can’t find what they are looking for.
- Difficulties with planning or problem solving: Your loved one may spend more time finishing tasks they previously breezed through. They may also struggle to follow simple directions.
- Confusion: Alzheimer’s can cause patients to lose track of time, forget where they are, or how they got there in the first place.
- Mood and personality changes: As the disease alters your loved one’s mind, their mood and personality might change. They might become confused, suspicious, or depressed.
Assisting Those with Alzheimer’s
Though a cure for this disease has yet to be found, there are ways to support your loved one, particularly while it is still in its initial stages.
- Maintain a routine: Keeping a consistent everyday system will help to lessen confusion and lets your loved one know what to expect — those with Alzheimer’s like routines.
- Avoid overstimulation: When communicating with your loved one, discuss ideas one at a time. It will help them to understand better what you are talking about.
- Help your loved one feel at ease: Make it a habit to reassure your loved one that they are safe with you and make them feel as comfortable as possible. Directly telling your loved one that they are safe with you can be very useful.
In its early stages, caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease may be more manageable. But as it advances, you might be faced with challenges that you may not be able to handle.
Those who have this disease may become dangers to themselves. For example, they might wander off or leave on the stove.
When events like these occur, it might be time to consider a facility specializing in Alzheimer’s care, so your loved one can get the help they need.
National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month Events and Activities
During this month, many organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association focus on informing people about this disease, including treatments and ways to help cope.
There are also many “memory walks” hosted by other groups in the months before November. These fundraising events help raise money for research about Alzheimer’s.
Visit the Walk to End Alzheimer’s website and find a walk in your area as well as other ways to get involved.
If you are unable to participate in a walk, donations are a great way to help. Or, you can volunteer with services that work with Alzheimer’s patients in your city.
As you become more aware of this illness this month, consider taking the National Memory Screening Program. This free program is available across the U.S. and offers confidential memory screenings.
Resources for Caregivers and Families
Besides being National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, November is also National Family Caregiver’s Month, which recognizes the dedication that so many family caregivers give daily.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming, but there are resources available to help you face the challenges.
Here is a list of free resources from the Alzheimer’s Association to assist family caregivers and their loved ones:
- A Virtual Library with over 5,000 books, journals, cassettes, videos, and CDs borrow, as well as comprehensive information about this disease and free online workshops.
- To connect caregivers with professionals and each other, the Association has a 24/7 Helpline to offer support for families. Call 800-272-3900. For online support, check out ALZConnected™.
- Get organized with a Care Team Calendar to streamline care with family and friends using Alzheimer’s Navigator™. Use it to help make individualized action plans, plus tools for helping caregivers cope.
How MeetCaregivers Can Help
If you are responsible for the care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s, it’s okay to take a break.
Respite care is a valuable resource for caregivers. MeetCaregivers can help you find a qualified in-home care worker to assist your loved one while you recharge.
Call us at (888) 541-1136 or for general inquiries, message us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to check the blog for resources and tips for happy, healthy senior living.