November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month – Here’s What You Should Know About Alzheimer’s Disease
Since the designation by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, November has been a time to promote awareness of Alzheimer’s disease. At the time, less than 2 million people were known to be afflicted. Today that number has more than doubled, to over 5 million. To show your support, you can wear a purple ribbon… but understand Alzheimer’s disease is also important. Roughly 500,000 people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every year, and the symptoms can begin as early as middle age.
Knowing the disease and symptoms can help you spot warning signs within your own family, particularly if you have older family members.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Named in 1909 after discoverer Alois Alzheimer, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of progressive dementia among older Americans, and the 6th leading cause of death in America. The mental faculties of a person with Alzheimer’s will slowly degrade, affecting both their memory as well as their ability to perform everyday tasks.
Sadly, Alzheimer’s disease has yet to be cured, and science is still seeking to understand the disease’s method of attack. Medications are available which can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s, but the effects will continue for the rest of a person’s life.
What Are the Common Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s, and dementia in general, can affect people in a variety of ways, many quite individualized. However, some symptoms exist which are common to most or all of Alzheimer’s cases:
- Memory loss. Memory loss among Alzheimer’s patients is nearly universal. They begin by forgetting small things, but as the disease progresses, memory loss continues until -often- even their loved ones are forgotten.
- Losing track of time or place. Alzheimer’s patients tend to be absent-minded and may find themselves in a place with no memory of how they arrived in that locale and why. Likewise, they will also tend to lose track of items. As the disease progresses, this becomes more common.
- Difficulty planning or carrying out complex tasks. For someone with early-stage Alzheimer’s, previously easy tasks such as planning a trip to the grocery store will become more difficult. Their ability to drive will also degrade.
- Mood or personality changes. Alzheimer’s patients almost always have personality changes, but the specifics are extremely individualized. They may become more easily angered, suspicious, depressed, or even start acting in a child-like fashion.
Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s Disease
During the early stages of the disease, an individual or family can easily provide care to their loved one. For example, by:
- Making more frequent visits to keep an eye on them
- Taking over important tasks, such as paying bills or sorting medication
- Aiding with household chores
- Being reassuring, helping keep them calm
- Helping establish a daily routine that is easy to follow
Let Neighborly Home Care Help
The reality is that Alzheimer’s disease will only get worse as the years pass, unfortunately. A time may come that you feel unable to provide the necessary care. In those situations, consider calling in an in-home senior care agency. We can help maintain your loved one’s standard of living, allowing them to remain in their homes (or a family member’s home) with supervision and support.
Contact Neighborly Home Care to learn more.