Each September is designated World Alzheimer’s Month, by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI). During this month, ADI raises awareness regarding Alzheimer’s disease, and challenges the stigmas associated with it.
Alzheimer’s affects about 5.7 million people in the United States, with one in ten seniors over 65 developing the disease. Additionally, about 15 million people in the US serve the role as caregiver, to a loved one, friend, or neighbor with Alzheimer’s or dementia. World Alzheimer’s Day was designed to not only bring attention to those who suffer from Alzheimer’s, but also to support those who provide care.
For those of you with the ability to do so, there are numerous ways you can contribute to World Alzheimer’s Month. Donate to a local caregiving organization, ask if they need volunteer help, or offer to fill in for a caregiver so that they can take a break. Sometimes, just lending an ear to a caregiving friend makes an enormous difference in their lives.
Of course, learning to recognize the signs of Alzheimer’s can help to keep you or a loved one safe. Eleven early signs of Alzheimer’s include:
- Memory loss – becoming more forgetful than usual
- Difficulty completing routine daily tasks – errands, driving, and self care, for example, become more difficult and time consuming
- Confusion regarding time or place – the individual might forget where he or she is, or how they got there, the date, or the year
- Difficulty planning or solving problems – balancing the checkbook or paying bills might become difficult
- Awkward conversations – the individual might pause, unable to find the right words, or forget what they were talking about
- Lost items, or difficulty remembering where objects were placed
- Vision problems – difficulty determining distance, reading, or seeing color or contrast
- Poor judgement – the individual makes silly mistakes or sometimes serious one (giving away money, for example)
- Decline in self care – the person might stop bathing, brushing hair and teeth, or changing clothes
- Social withdrawal – the individual is missing from social events or doesn’t want to leave the house
- Personality and/or mood changes – the individual might seem confused, depressed, anxious, or experience seemingly unwarranted shifts in mood
If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms, it is important to share your concerns with a healthcare professional right away.