When President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s
Disease Awareness Month in 1983, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s.
5.4 million people are suffering from the disease. As the disease impacts more people every
year, it’s important to understand the warning signs, get screened,
and take advantage of public information and resources.
On Wednesday, June 21, the Alzheimer’s Association is celebrating
The Longest Day, the
Alzheimer’s Association’s initiative for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research.
On the summer solstice, select an activity that you love—or an activity
loved by someone affected by Alzheimer’s—to raise awareness
in support of research that will eventually result in the first survivor
of Alzheimer’s. Just pick an event, have fun, and help make a difference!
While The Longest Day is all about having fun and helping to end Alzheimer’s,
it’s also about educating the public on signs and symptoms and letting
them know about resources that are available.
Know the Warning Signs
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, accounting for
60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases. It worsens over time and there is no cure, although
there are treatments available that can delay the symptoms and improve
quality of life. If you feel that you or someone you love may be suffering
from Alzheimer’s, it’s important to know the
10 warning signs that could help you detect it early.
A common symptom of early-stage Alzheimer’s is
memory loss that affects daily life.
Forgetting information that was just recently learned, important dates or events, and asking
for the same information multiple times are all symptoms of memory loss.
Many people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s lose the ability to
follow a plan or work with numbers; they have
difficulty completing tasks they would otherwise consider simple.
Someone who is suffering from Alzheimer’s may struggle to remember
how to drive somewhere they’ve driven many times before, or
forget the rules of their favorite game.
Losing track of
dates, seasons, and the passage of time is a warning sign of Alzheimer’s. A person suffering from the disease
may forget where they are and how they got there.
They may also
misplace things and forget how to find them. Putting items in unusual places or accusing
others of stealing is not uncommon.
Other potential warning signs include difficulty following or joining a conversation; poor decision-making;
vision problems; withdrawal from work, family, and social obligations;
and changes in mood.
If you or someone close to you is suffering from any of these
10 warning signs, it’s important to
schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately. Early detection can make all the difference
in quality of life for both those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and
their caretakers. You can also take advantage of treatments that could
lessen symptoms and help you or your loved one maintain as much of their independence
as possible for a longer period of time. Early detection gives you and
your family more time to plan for the future and make decisions about
care, transportation, living options, and legal matters.
Many people dismiss the warning signs as “senior moments” or
something less serious than Alzheimer’s. A screening could be vital
to getting someone suffering from Alzheimer’s the treatment they need.
Resources for Families
15 million Americans providing unpaid care and support to family members with Alzheimer’s
or other forms of dementia. In 2016 alone, these same caregivers provided
18.2 billion hours of care valued at over $230 billion. Nearly
35% of them reported their health had declined due to their responsibilities
to their loved ones. In comparison, only
19% of those who cared for elderly loved ones without dementia felt their
health has gotten worse.
It’s important for families on this journey to know they’re
Alzconnected.org allows caregivers to connect with an online community of people who are
impacted by Alzheimer’s. Here, families can find advice from other
supporters, and get the strength they need to keep moving forward.
Local Resources for Alzheimer’s Care & Support
If you’re looking to connect with someone face to face,
support groups are available right here in Maryland. Individuals with Alzheimer’s
disease as well as their family, friends, and caregivers meet regularly
once a month. They create a safe place for patients to go where they’re
surrounded by people who understand them, and caregivers can find emotional
and spiritual support too.
Call the facilitator listed at your local support group to become a member.
Frederick County Health Department and the
Frederick County Department of Aging are two local recourses available to Frederick County residents that provide
information and assistance to people suffering from Alzheimer’s
For more information on Alzheimer’s disease, visit