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Hale County Hospital’s Hospital Corner

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month, a time to show support to the millions of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Currently, there are nearly 50 million people living with dementia worldwide. Dementia affects parts of the brain which control thought, memory, and language. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.

The risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease increases as you age, although the disease is not a normal part of aging. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the more people know about Alzheimer’s disease the more action can be taken to improve the lives of individuals affected by the disease. In this article, we would like to share a few crucial facts about Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Many older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease do not know they have the disease. Early signs of dementia include: problems speaking such as finding the right words in conversation, difficulty with daily tasks such as dressing, and behavioral changes.
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias continue to affect more people every year. While the number of people living with dementia worldwide is already high, it is expected to continue to increase, eventually rising to 135 million people by 2050.
  • Alzheimer’s disease often leads to premature death. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death among the U.S. population, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Because there is currently no cure for dementia, the disease is the only illness in the country’s top 10 cause of death that can’t be prevented or slowed.
  • Additionally, being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia can be a very difficult, round-the-clock job. Importantly, caregivers of people who have Alzheimer’s disease need all the support they can get. Thus, in this article, we also want to highlight some of the ways you can support a person who’s caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Be specific about the kind of support you can provide. General offers can sometimes be difficult to accept. Thus, try to make as concrete of an offer as possible. For example, “I’m going to the grocery store. What can I pick up for you?” or “Do you need some laundry done? I can pick it up today and bring it back clean tomorrow.”
  • Check in often. Sending a card, calling, or visiting a caregiver inperson can all make a big difference. It’s important for caregivers to know that they have a network of support. Additionally, contact with someone outside of the home can help lift a caregiver’s spirits.
  • Be mindful of signs of caregiver stress. Caregivers might mistakenly believe that they must do everything for themselves. Caregiver stress can manifest in irritability, anger, exhaustion, and social withdrawal. If a caregiver doesn’t initially accept your offer of help, show patience and persistence. Remind the caregiver that the best way to take care of someone else is to first take care of yourself.

We hope this article taught you a little more about Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. If you are a caregiver yourself, know that you are seen and supported. All information in this article came from an article published by Unicity Healthcare and the Mayo Clinic. For more information about Alzehiemer’s disease and other forms of dementia, please visit: https://www.alz.org/ab am/overview.asp.