June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month!
June is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month!
Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
Every 66 seconds someone in the United States develops the disease.
More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, this number could rise as high as 16 million.
1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
Alzheimer’s kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that cause problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general terms for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.
Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. The greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. But Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age. Approximately 200,00 Americans under the age of 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s worsens over time. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.
Alzheimer’s has no current care, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.
Alzheimer’s disease can be separated into three different categories: mild Alzheimer’s disease, moderate Alzheimer’s disease and severe Alzheimer’s disease. Be aware that it may be difficult to place a person with Alzheimer’s in a specific stage as stages may overlap.
Mild Alzheimer’s disease (early-stage)
In the early stage of Alzheimer’s, a person may function independently. He or she may still drive, work and be part of social activities. Despite this, the person may feel as if he or she is having memory lapses, such as forgetting familiar words or the location of everyday objects. Friends, family or others close to the individual begin to notice difficulties. During a detailed medical interview, doctors may be able to detect problems in memory or concentration.
Moderate Alzheimer’s disease (middle-stage)
Moderate Alzheimer’s is typically the longest stage and can last for many years. As the disease progresses, the person with Alzheimer’s will require a greater level of care. You may notice the person with Alzheimer’s confusing words, getting frustrated or angry, or acting in unexpected ways, such as refusing to bathe. Damage to nerve cells in the brain can make it difficult to express thoughts and perform routine tasks.
Severe Alzheimer’s disease (late-stage)
In the final stage of this disease, individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, to carry on a conversation and, eventually, to control movement. They may still say words or phrases, but communicating pain becomes difficult. As memory and cognitive skills continue to worsen, significant personality changes may take place and individuals need extensive help with daily activities.
10 Early Signs and Symptoms
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
Monitor personal comfort. Check for pain, hunger, thirst, constipation, full bladder, fatigue, infections and skin irritation. Maintain a comfortable room temperature.
Avoid being confrontational or arguing about facts. For example, if a person expresses a wish to go visit a parent who died years ago, don’t point out that the parent is dead. Instead, say, “Your mother is a wonderful person. I would like to see her too.”
Redirect the person’s attention. Try to remain flexible, patient and supportive by responding to the emotion, not the behavior.
Create a calm environment. Avoid noise, glare, insecure space and too much background distraction, including television.
Allow adequate rest between stimulating events.
Provide a security object.
Acknowledge requests, and respond to them.
Look for reasons behind each behavior. Consult a physician to identify any causes related to medications or illness.
Explore various solutions.
Don’t take the behavior personally, and share your experiences with others.
Events or changes in a person’s surrounding often play a role in triggering behavioral symptoms. Change can be stressful for anyone and can be especially difficult for a person with Alzheimer’s disease. It can increase the fear and fatigue of trying to make sense out of an increasingly confusing world.