Alzheimer’s Disease may be one of the cruelest diseases because a sufferer seemingly “disappears” until the person they were — no longer exists. National Alzheimer’s Disease Month, each November, reminds us that over 5 million Americans suffer. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), a form of dementia, impacts memory, thinking, and behavior. AD ranks as the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the most common form of dementia in 60-80% of all diagnosed cases. Learn the symptoms, treatments, and latest research, as well as how you can help.
National Alzheimer's Disease Month - History
G8 Convened the first dementia summit
Global representatives assembled at the G8 International Alzheimer's Summit in the UK for collaboration on finding a cure by 2025.
President Obama joined in the fight
He signed the National Alzheimer's Project Act — providing a framework for supporting and funding AD research.
President Reagan announced AD diagnosis
He surprised the nation by announcing his own Alzheimer's Disease diagnosis.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an AD Drug
Cognex, the first drug focusing on improving the memory loss and dementia symptoms of AD patients, was approved by the FDA
Dr. Alzheimer revealed new neurological disease
Dr. Alois Alzheimer described a patient's memory loss, paranoia, and psychological changes — followed by the autopsy revealing diminished nerve cells in and around the brain.
How to Observe National Alzheimer's Disease Month
1. Take a memory walk
The Alzheimer's Association is sponsoring memory walks all over the country. Thousands of people come together to raise funds to support both the care of patients and the research for a cure. Wear blue if you have dementia, or purple if you've lost a loved one to the disease.
2. Get screened
The National Memory Screening Program allows you to answer a list of questions to see if you or someone you know may potentially have Alzheimer's Disease. The test is a series of questions to measure your language skills, thinking ability, and intellectual functions. Taking the test is free. But it will not definitely tell you whether or not you have AD. Check with your doctor to get a thorough evaluation.
Your dollars are critical in the search for a cure. Funding also helps develop new medications to slow the effects of the disease. Your support makes it all happen.
5 Important Things To Know About Alzheimer's Disease
1. You can lose your sense of smell
People with AD often lose their sense of smell — which can be an early sign of the disease.
2. Drink your coffee
A team of French and German researchers discovered that caffeine and coffee may delay memory decline.
3. It's linked to heart disease
Heart disease heightens your AD risk due to vascular dementia stemming from narrowed blood vessels in the brain caused by less oxygen.
4. Its costs are sky high
In 2050, treatment costs for AD are expected to balloon to $1 trillion.
5. It impacts women more than men
Brain shrinkage in women appears to be more severe than in men.
Why National Alzheimer's Disease Month is Important
A. It's progressive
Alzheimer's Disease worsens over time and eventually the sufferer can no longer do routine tasks. During full progression, patients aren't sure where they are or may not be able to converse. When symptoms are fully apparent, people with AD may only live an average of eight years, but some can survive up to 20 years, depending on their overall health.
B. It interferes with your memory
Alzheimer's (AD) attacks your memory of people, places, and things. The symptoms to look for include memory loss (especially short-term), trouble making plans and solving problems, confusion over times or places, and misplacing objects. AD patients also experience mood and personality changes that can devolve into someone being confused, suspicious, or even depressed.
C. It encourages a routine
When someone has AD, having a routine is critical to helping the person manage their symptoms. As a caregiver, try to keep from overstimulating the person. Keep details to a minimum and speak calmly about one idea at a time. Most importantly, reassure your loved one that they are safe with you.