June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month and a time for people of all ages to get involved in the fight against the disease. An estimated 5.8 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2020 and it is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease. It is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory loss and cognitive abilities. Researchers believe that Alzheimer’s disease begins 20 years or more before you notice symptoms. Symptoms occur because nerve cells (neurons) in parts of the brain have been damaged or destroyed. These signs usually develop slowly and worsen over time, interfering with an individuals’ ability to perform everyday activities.
What are the warning signs of Alzheimer’s?
- Memory Loss – This is one of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Confusion – People with Alzheimer’s often lose track of dates and time.
- Problem Solving – This includes difficulty concentrating or taking much longer to do tasks.
- Misplacing Things – Frequently losing things and not being able to find them again.
- Withdrawal – Some remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports.
- Personality Changes – Mood and personality changes are common. Some often become confused, depressed, fearful or anxious.
- Poor Judgment – People often experience changes in their judgment or decision-making.
- Talking and Writing – Oftentimes, people begin to struggle with vocabulary or have trouble following or joining a conversation.
- Vision Problems – includes difficulty with reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast.
What to do if you suspect you or a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease?
If you notice some of the above changes in yourself or a loved one, it is important to talk to a healthcare provider as soon as possible. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or a way to stop or slow its progression, there are drug and non-drug options that may help treat symptoms. Our AFC providers can assess symptoms and help offer advice and physician referrals for your next step. Understanding the available options can help individuals living with the disease and their caregivers cope with symptoms and improve quality of life.
Everyone can help in the fight to end Alzheimer’s. Visit www.alz.org and join in the cause by staying informed, making a donation, or becoming an advocate for those with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.