June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. This is a time that people wear purple, change profile pictures on social media to show the color purple or purple frames, and open up about their own experiences in order to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s. It is also a time that people lift up their loved ones who are living or lived with this disease as well as the caretakers who help them cope with Alzheimer’s.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association website, every three seconds someone in the world develops dementia. Almost 50 million people are currently living with the disease worldwide, and that number is expected to increase astronomically in coming years.
Getting the diagnosis can be scary, emotional, and confusing for both the patient and their family. There are so many questions about Alzheimer’s. In this blog, we will explore Alzheimer’s and learn how to raise awareness. We will also look at some resources for people living with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones.
A Little About Alzheimer’s:
Many people know that Alzheimer’s is a disease that causes memory loss, but is that all it is? Alzheimer’s causes dementia which is a fancy term for memory loss and a decline in cognitive abilities. Alzheimer’s is NOT a normal part of aging, though increasing age is one of the biggest risk factors. A person does not have to be “elderly” in order to develop Alzheimer’s. There is such a thing as early onset. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, that means that symptoms get worse as time goes on. Unfortunately, currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are some rather effective treatments available to help patients maintain as much normalcy in life as possible.
Warning Signs and Symptoms:
Many people suffer from normal memory lapses. As they grow older they begin to fear that these memory lapses are really the beginning of Alzheimer’s, but when should they go to the doctor? The most telling signs that a person may be in the early stages of Alzheimers include:
1. Problems speaking clearly or finding the right words to use in conversations
2. Getting lost in familiar places or forgetting where you are
3. Difficulty completing or taking longer to complete normal everyday tasks like handling money at the store, paying bills, or getting dressed
4. Repeating questions
5. Lapses in judgment
6. Losing things regularly or leaving things in strange places (ex: keys in the refrigerator)
7. Mood and personality changes
8. Changes in vision and perception
Resources for When You or a Loved One Has Been Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s:
1. Alzheimer’s Association.
National Helpline (24/7)……………… 800-272-3900
Eastern North Carolina Chapter …. 919-803-8285
5171 Glenwood Ave., Ste. 101, Raleigh, 27612
2.Dementia Alliance of North Carolina
9131 Anson Wy., Ste. 206, Raleigh, 27615
3. Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Education and Referral Center
National Institute on Aging
4. The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration
5. Duke Dementia Family Support Program
6. UNC Memory Disorders Clinic
194 Finley Golf Course Rd., Ste. 200, Chapel Hill, 27517
Ideas for Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s:
1. Home Care: Consider engaging a home care group to have someone help you or your loved one out on a regular basis. This can be a PCA who just comes to visit, wards off loneliness, and helps with simple tasks, a CNA who comes to help with more personal tasks, or an RN. There are different levels of home care available to patients based on their needs.
2. Medical Alerts: Consider getting some sort of medical alert device that will connect you or your loved one with necessary services with just the push of a button.
3. GPS Devices: One of the more common and more dangerous effects of Alzheimer’s is the tendency to wander or get lost. Connecting your phone GPS or another GPS device (like a watch or necklace) can help locate you or your loved one should this occur.
Ways to Raise Awareness
1. Share your experience with others in person or on social media.
2. “Go Purple” on social media: Change your profile pictures on social media to purple or include a special purple frame and share posts about Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness this month. k
3. Share a photo on Instagram or Twitter of you wearing purple with a caption explaining why and/or using the hashtag #ENDALZ or #EndAlzheimers
4. Participate in “The Longest Day” on June 20, 2021
What is “The Longest Day”?
The Longest Day is the day with the most light — the summer solstice. On June 20, people from across the world will fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s through a fundraising activity of their choice. Check out The Longest Day on www.alz.org