Understanding Alzheimer’s disease may be complex, but it must be treated appropriately. Alzheimer’s disease is a public health issue that affects millions of people and the loved ones that care for them. People with Alzheimer’s experience memory loss, behavioral changes, and often begin to lose control of bodily functions. Many families struggle with the emotional, physical, and financial burdens of caring for their loved one with Alzheimer’s. Between the physical stressors of the disease and the stigma throughout our communities, people with Alzheimer’s and their families often become isolated, leading to a decline in health and well-being.
By understanding Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias of the brain, we can develop plans to transform how we approach the disease and help break the stigma. By raising awareness, many people can identify the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and reduce the public misperception.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disease and a form of dementia and is not considered a part of normal aging. Dementia is a group of conditions that involve the loss of cognitive function, leading to interference in a person’s daily activities. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia.
Alzheimer’s is not just forgetting or misplacing things from time to time. This disease is more complex and involves confusion with places and people a person knows well or repeatedly asking the same questions. This severe disease of the brain begins slowly and progresses over time. The distinction between cognitive decline of normal aging like occasional forgetfulness and Alzheimer’s is when memory struggles and symptoms become significant enough to impair independence.
With Alzheimer’s disease, nerve cells in the brain start to die, and a person’s ability to think, remember things and use good judgment declines. Most cases begin after the age of 60, and currently, there is no specific known cause for the onset.
Signs & Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, memory struggles are more frequent. As the disease progresses, confusion and impaired judgment set in with behaviors that may include redundant questioning, suspicion, and wandering. In the severe stages of Alzheimer’s, people become irrational, unaware of their environment, unable to carry on conversations and require assistance with daily personal needs like feeding and bathing. People living with Alzheimer’s often end up in a nursing home.
Early Stages of Alzheimer’s Signs & Symptoms
- Getting lost
- Repeating the same questions
- Finding it difficult to remember simple things
- Difficulty solving problems
- Having trouble paying bills
- Putting items in odd places
- Losing things more often
Moderate Stages of Alzheimer’s Signs & Symptoms
- Problems with navigation
- Impaired judgment
- Frequent confusion
- Suspicion of others
- Forgetting the names of everyday objects
Severe Stages of Alzheimer’s Signs & Symptoms
- Trouble having a conversation
- Losing track of the date and time of year
- Strange behavior such as groaning or grunting
- Increased sleeping
- Weight loss
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
- Inability to move around independently
Treatments & Research for Alzheimer’s Disease
Although there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are medications that can treat the symptoms. The earlier the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, the more effective the medications work. Every person with Alzheimer’s is unique, so medications may have side effects and may not be suitable for everyone.
Researchers are holding studies with people who have Alzheimer’s to find improved ways to treat the disease. These researchers seek how to slow and prevent Alzheimer’s, reduce symptoms, and potentially prevent it. There are clinical trials available for those with a family history, recent diagnosis, and those that are healthy with no memory problems. By participating in a clinical trial or research study, we are helping to fight Alzheimer’s disease.
To learn more about clinical trials and studies available, visit the following sites:
Coping & Help for Caregivers of Those with Alzheimer’s
Although being a caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s can be rewarding, this role can also be extremely overwhelming and exhausting. It is essential to know that options are available to ease the responsibilities and provide direction during this uncertain time.
How to Get Involved in the Fight Against Alzheimer’s Disease
There are many ways to get involved if you know someone with Alzheimer’s, are related to someone with the disease, are a caregiver, or want to show some support. Here are some of the ways that we suggest:
1. Put Together a Team
Hundreds of communities across the country hold a Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The walk takes place later in the year and encourages teams and their participants to fundraise in various ways. Once you sign up for your team, you’ll receive a packet with helpful information, ideas, and ways to set and achieve goals. It really can be a lot of fun for a cause that is so great!
2. Take the Purple Pledge
The Alzheimer’s Association encourages you to take the Purple Pledge and spread the word about this disease, helping to inspire action and continue to raise awareness.
3. Wear Purple to Show Your Support
You can simply wear purple to show your support this month. This small effort is a way to contribute to the cause.
4. Start a Fundraiser for The Longest Day
The Longest Day is June 21, 2022, the day with the most light, called the summer solstice. You can participate online, in-person, or at home in activities like walking, golfing, board games, cookouts, arts, and other hobbies. Turn your passion into a purpose, create a fundraising page, and spread the word.
5. Ride to End Alzheimer’s disease
If you are a cycle enthusiast, this multi-city biking challenge is for bikers of all skill levels. Participation in Ride to End ALZ raises funds and awareness for the research and support efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. All funds raised go toward cutting-edge research targeted to change the course of Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Donate Financially
Consider making a financial contribution to a research organization. Many of these organizations are consistently looking to raise money for studies and would primarily benefit from the extra funding.
Some organizations we suggest are the following:
7. Take Time for Yourself
Practicing self-care is one of the most important ways to potentially prevent Alzheimer’s from happening to you and those that are important to you. By eating right, exercising, and getting enough rest, you can reduce your stress levels and proactively prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
No matter what you choose to do to show your support, know that every effort you make counts. The common goal is joining together to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s in hopes that we can help end the disease.
As always, talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns about symptoms that you or someone you know may be experiencing. Taking the proper precautionary steps early on may make more memories later in life.