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Observing World Alzheimer’s Month

Now is the time to learn more about this devastating disease.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, and with it claiming more lives annually than breast and prostate cancer combined, it’s more important than ever to educate yourself on the disease.

Alzheimer’s by the Numbers

  • Nearly 6 million people suffer from the disease in the U.S. alone (Alzheimer’s Association, 2022).
  • Those who are 65 and older have a 10% chance of getting dementia, with that figure rising to nearly 50% when people reach 85 (Alzheimer’s Association, 2022).
  • 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia (Alzheimer’s Association, 2022).
  • In 2020, COVID-19 contributed to a 17% increase in Alzheimer’s and dementia deaths (Alzheimer’s Association, 2022).
  • In 2022, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia will cost the nation $321 billion (Alzheimer’s Association, 2022).
  • By 2050, those costs could reach nearly $1 trillion annually (Alzheimer’s Association, 2022).
  • Fewer than 1 in 5 Americans are familiar with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which can be an early stage of Alzheimer’s (Alzheimer’s Association, 2022).

Understanding Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. While Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, its chances of developing increase dramatically the older you get. Most factors involved with getting Alzheimer’s are connected to genetics, but new research suggests that keeping the heart and brain healthy lowers your risk for the disease. This includes having a good diet and exercising regularly. Despite the disease having no cure, there is a worldwide effort to find a way to prevent Alzheimer’s.

Know the Signs

Memory loss that disrupts daily life can be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or other dementia, but it’s not the only one. Here are 10 warning signs of early onset of the disease. If you notice you have any of them, don’t put off seeing your doctor.

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

Early Detection Matters

If you notice one or more signs in yourself or another person, it can be difficult to know what to do. It’s natural to feel uncertain or nervous about discussing these changes with others. But with Alzheimer’s being a significant health concern that a doctor should evaluate, it’s important to take action to figure out what’s going on.

Caregiving Relative to Stage

Many Alzheimer’s patients typically begin receiving care and support at home from loved ones. However, as the disease progresses to more advanced stages, the type of care patients require shifts as well. While not always an easy decision to make, it’s important for in-home caregivers to know the right time to seek assistance from professional caregivers.

Support Groups and Resources

Alzheimer’s isn’t just difficult for those who have it, as the disease takes a toll on loved ones as well. Fortunately, there are dozens of Alzheimer’s Association chapters across the United States to advance critical care, support, and research. There is at least one in each state, so be sure to find your local one today. On top of these support groups, resources for information on the disease have improved exponentially in the last 20 years.

Alzheimer’s continues to deeply impact the lives of families across the globe. However, it has never been easier to join the fight and help put an end to this catastrophic disease.

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