November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s disease is a complex neurological disease and the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. It is a progressive disease, meaning that symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, interfering with daily tasks.
Over 5 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease, and more than 10 million people are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
GET INVOLVED WITH ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AWARENESS
- Know the Symptoms: One of the actions you can take in raising Alzheimer’s disease awareness is to learn about the symptoms so you can look out for loved ones. Earlier diagnosis and treatment can improve quality of life, and signs of dementia are often more obvious to family members or friends.
The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is difficulty remembering newly learned information. In addition to memory loss, other symptoms include difficulty planning or solving problems, confusion with time or place, misplacing things or unable to retrace steps, and mood and personality changes. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of dementia, visit a doctor as soon as possible so the cause can be determined.
- Participate in the National Memory Screening Program: this program provides free, confidential memory screenings throughout the country on an ongoing basis.
- Join the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry: led by Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, the registry unites leading researchers with people who are interested in taking part in Alzheimer’s studies. In addition to supporting Alzheimer’s research, they provide information about Alzheimer’s and Alzheimer’s prevention, as well as resources on Alzheimer’s caregiving.
HOW TO HELP A LOVED ONE WITH ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
If you know someone with Alzheimer’s disease, here are 6 things you can do to help:
- Routine: maintain a daily routine to help avoid confusion.
- Simplify: keep things simple and minimize overstimulation.
- Reassurance: reassure the person to feel comfortable and safe.
- Calm: be a source of calm for the person, even when you feel frustrated.
- Unite: get the family involved in walks or runs to support Alzheimer’s organizations. This is a great way to support research and educate children on aspects of memory loss and what a family member may be going through.
- Support: utilize the resources below to ensure you have the tools you need to better understand Alzheimer’s disease and to reduce caregiver burnout.
RESOURCES FOR ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND OTHER DEMENTIAS
We have compiled resources below to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease, as well as resources for loved ones of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
- The Alzheimer’s Association: a voluntary health organization providing resources for information, education, referral, and support. The organization offers a 24/7 helpline (800.272.3900), local Alzheimer’s Association chapters, and a virtual library devoted to increasing knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
- The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America: a nonprofit organization providing support, services, and education to individuals, families, and caregivers affected by Alzheimer's disease and related dementias nationwide.
- The Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education And Referral (ADEAR) Center: a service of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the ADEAR Center is a comprehensive source of information about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias for health professionals, people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families, and the public.
- Relieving Stress and Anxiety: Resources for Alzheimer’s Caregivers: the National Institute on Aging compiled a resource list with a selection of articles, books, and other materials that may help caregivers manage their own stress, anxiety, and emotions.