Monday, November 7, 2016

Alzheimer's Awareness

November is Alzheimer’s awareness month. Alzheimer’s is a serious disease that can develop as the brain gets older. Our goal is to make readers aware of what the disease is, how it is treated, symptoms, and what to do if you or someone you know may have it. 

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that messes with memory, behavior, and the way we think. Typically, Alzheimer’s takes a while to develop, but over time, it starts to get worse. People with Alzheimer’s can easily forget what day it is, forget anniversaries, relatives, where they are, etc. Where Alzheimer’s is usually associated with aging, there is also early onset Alzheimer's. This can happen between 40s and 50s. 

In the beginning stage, the memory loss isn’t as severe. When Alzheimer’s reaches later stages, conversations are hard to hold and it may be difficult to get the person to respond to you. According to statistics, people who develop Alzheimer’s usually live, on average, eight years once the signs become apparent to others, though some have lived significantly longer. Scarily enough, statistics also state that Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in our country. 

Is there a cure?

Unfortunately, there currently is no cure for the disease. However, there are treatments available. All treatments have the power to do is slow the progression of the stages and help patients to feel better and live better. 

What are the signs to watch out for?

There are ten major signs to watch out for when it comes to Alzheimer’s:

  • First, memory loss that causes issues in daily routine is important to remember. A common sign for this is when the person asks for the same type of information continuously. 
  • The next sign is when complications arise in planning and problem solving. 
  • They can also become confused on what time it is as well as where they are. 
  • Difficulty completing tasks that are familiar to them regardless of where they are.
  • Problems with words in speaking or writing that they never had issues with.
  • Finding it hard to understand visual images such as color or contrast which creates problems driving.
  • Having a hard time replacing steps and misplacing objects.
  • Poor judgment. 
  • Withdrawing themselves from work and social activities. 
  • Changes in their mood as well as their personality.

If you happen to notice these signs either for yourself or someone you know, it is good to take a trip to the doctor’s office. The doctor can detect it early and give you the best treatment to give relief of symptoms. This helps to prolong independence. 

Age, family history, and genetics play a huge role in Alzheimer’s. It is always a good idea to ask your parents or other relatives about family history. Even if you feel you don’t have any symptoms, it is great to inform your doctor and to have it on file for future appointments. Remember, not everyone gets Alzheimer’s. However, it is still important to get regular checkups. 

Thank you for reading! If you want more information on Alzheimer’s disease, follow this link:

Written by Beth Jeffries, MHC Healthcare Volunteer

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