In 1983 President Ronald Reagan established November as Alzheimer’s Awareness month. At that time, there were approximately two million people suffering from the disease. Today that number is over five million and growing. It was hoped that by devoting awareness to this devastating disease there would be an increase in research, education, collection of data and valuable information for those who suffer from the disease, treat the disease and care for those with the disease. While much has been looked at, there is still much to be done. 

The Alzheimer’s Association (Alz.org) provides the following compelling facts and figures about the magnitude and impact of this disease:

  1. Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
  2. 16.1 million people provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
  3. 18.4 billion hours of care is provided by unpaid caregivers. 
  4. Between 2000 and 2015 there was a 123% increase in those with Alzheimer’s disease. 
  5. If Alzheimer’s could be diagnosed accurately and early enough, medical and care cost savings could total up to 7.9 billion dollars. 

While the cost to society is great and continues to grow rapidly, those with the disease –and their families and caregivers —will continue to fight the disease each and every day. They are joined in their fight by researchers, medical professionals and ever changing technology. For more information:

 https://www.nia.nih.gov/about/advances-alzheimers-disease-related-dementias-research 

While waiting for research and a cure, education and early intervention remain crucial.

Learning the signs of Alzheimer’s can increase and improve better outcomes.

The National Institute on Aging/National Institute of Health notes that a person, while healthy may have more difficulty navigating a complex world and has several symptoms that should be not be overlooked. Some of the symptoms may include:

  1. Memory Loss that impacts day to day activities
  2. Poor Judgement leading to inappropriate decisions
  3. Loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative
  4. Repeating Questions
  5. Difficulty handling financial affairs
  6. Losing a sense of direction, getting lost, trouble with time
  7. Losing or misplacing items
  8. Mood and personality changes, changes in social activities
  9. An increase in anxiety and aggression

Consult a medical professional if you, or your loved one might be experiencing some of the above symptoms. 

Are there opportunities to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease? According to the Mayo Clinic, while there is no conclusive evidence, there are indicators of several things that can be done to reduce the risk of developing the disease.

 Improve overall health. While research has not confirmed these strategies will prevent Alzheimer’s, the Mayo Clinic suggests these good health practices:

  1. Avoid smoking.
  2. Control vascular risk factors–including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
  3. Eat a well-balanced diet (consider the Mediterranean diet as mentioned above), including plenty of vegetables, fruits, lean protein and protein that includes omega-3 fatty acids.
  4. Stay physically and socially active. Start an exercise program (check with your doctor first) if you are not already exercising regularly.
  5. Practice good mental health. Engage in reading, socializing, take courses, practice stress reduction, etc.
  6. Use thinking (cognitive) skills such as memory skills.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/expert-answers/alzheimers-prevention/faq-20058140

Alzheimer’s is one of the most challenging diseases of our time. It can not only affect your loved one, but the entire family and those who provide care. During the month of November reach out for more information and awareness about Alzheimer’s disease. CarePlus is here to help—with support groups, experienced caregivers, expert advice and our caring professionals are here to help you each step of the way. Learn more about our Dementia Program here. We look forward to hearing from you.