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 Alzheimer’s, in the 40 years since that number has tripled. In 2020, there were 99,000 Minnesotans living with Alzheimer’s.
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, increased treatment options, and make changes to their lifestyles 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. By having a plan in place before symptoms appear it can help ensure everyone is on the same page with the care that should take place. 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 patient’s 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.
In Minnesota, 171,000 family and friends provided millions of hours of unpaid care to those experiencing Alzheimer’s.
Visit the Alzheimer’s Association to learn more about getting involved in the fight against Alzheimer’s.
Join Our Monthly Support Group
Integracare hosts a monthly meeting for those impacted by Alzheimer’s in our community. To learn more about the group, click here.