November continues to be a busy month for health awareness events and this week we recognize National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s is a disease that impacts more than 5.7 million Americans, potentially even someone close to you. Altzheimers is the most common form of Dementia.
When President Ronald Regan created this awareness month in 1983 fewer than 2 million Americans were living with Altzheimers. In the nearly 40 years since that number has tripled.
Know the Warning Signs
The Alzheimer’s Association published a list of 10 common signs to watch for in your family members. It is important to remember Alzheimer’s is not a regular part of aging. Additionally, those that observe Alzheimer’s signs in a family member or themselves should not be reluctant to tell others. Early detection with screening is key.
With early detection, patients can benefit from clinical trials, treatment options, and make changes to their lifestyle to attempt to live healthier. Current medications do not prevent, stop or reverse Alzheimer’s, but they can help lessen the symptoms, such as memory loss and confusion, for a limited time.
Have a Care Plan in Place
Prior to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis consider setting up a care plan for yourself or someone in your life. The Alzheimer’s Association recognizes caregivers and the role they play with Alzheimer’s patients. Ensuring care is given in the way the patient desires provide the best outcome for both the patient and their family. While you do not want to imagine someone important in your life developing Alzheimer’s it is important to consider setting up a care plan in case they would be diagnosed.
Impacting the Entire Family
Because of the nature of Alzheimer’s the patients entire family is impacted by a diagnosis. It can be stressful for family members to watch the patient’s health depreciate over time. Family members who provide care for Alzheimer’s patients face difficulties dealing with stress and at times, social isolation.
Finding support groups and resources to deal with these difficulties is important to help caregivers provide the best possible care for themselves and those they are caring for. Additionally, having a care plan in place prior to diagnosis is important to help relieve some of the stress that comes with these situations.
Visit the Alzheimer’s Association to learn more about getting involved in the fight against Alzheimer’s.
Integracare hosts a monthly meeting for those impacted by Alzheimer’s in our community. To learn more about the group, click here.