Share The Health

Fight Back Against Alzheimer's Disease

06-13-2017

When President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s. Today, nearly 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.

Get Screened

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

There are 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 an estimated 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 not alone. 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.

The 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 and dementia.

For more information on Alzheimer’s disease, visit www.alz.org.



Comments

No Comments Posted