November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Month. President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s; today, the number of people with the disease has soared to nearly 5.4 million. President Barrack Obama proclaimed November as “National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, 2013,” asserting, “This month, we stand with everyone confronting the painful reality of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis; lend our support to the families who care for them.”
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. It is a disease of the brain that begins slowly and gets worse over time. It causes large numbers of nerve cells in the brain to die. Doctor’s don’t know what causes the disease. Most of the time it begins after age 60. Nearly half of people age 85 and older may have Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s consist of three main stages: mild (sometimes called early stage), moderate, and severe (sometimes called later stage).
Alzheimer’s disease often starts slowly. In fact, some people don’t know they have it. Many blame forgetfulness on old age. However, over time their memory problems get more serious. People with Alzheimer’s disease have trouble doing everyday things like driving a car, cooking a meal, or paying bills. Also, they may get lost easily and find even simple things confusing. Some people become worried, angry, or violent. There are medicines that can treat the symptoms but there is no cure.
As the disease progress, most people with Alzheimer’s disease need someone to take care of all their needs. Some may receive care at home or a nursing home. Day Adult Centers are often utilized as well.
The Mayo Clinic highlights some of the common factors that may contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Lack of exercise
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Poorly controlled diabetes
- A diet lacking in fruit and vegetables
- Lack of social engagement.
Live a healthy lifestyle and talk about Alzheimer’s. If you know a caretaker, offer your support. Get involved this month and help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease. For resources and information on living with or caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, please visit www.Alzheimers.gov.