6.2 Million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s Disease
By 2060, that number is projected to grow to 13.8 Million. The disease is under the umbrella of a group of diseases called dementia, and Alzheimer’s is the most common. The Alzheimer’s Association is taking this month to spread awareness about the disease so that funding for research for a cure grows.
Alzheimer’s affects more people than you’d think
Since this disease affects someone’s ability to do everyday tasks, either a full-time or part-time caregiver is usually needed. Caregivers are just as important in the Alzheimer’s community, and they need support, too. It can be an emotionally and physically exhausting task, and often caregivers need time away from work and their own life.
Many people living with Alzheimer’s are not diagnosed in general, as the symptoms are very similar to regular age-related memory loss symptoms. Below are memory symptoms specifically found in dementia:
- Forgetting recently learned information
- Forgetting important dates/events
- Asking the same questions over and over
- Needing to use memory aids such as notes or electronic devices
Early detection could save a life
Alzheimer’s is a disease that starts with mild symptoms that progress over time. It involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. Starting with mild memory loss, and by the end of the disease’s course in someone’s body, the person could lose their ability to carry on a conversation or speak, remember names, and more.
Although this disease is associated with adults over the age of 65, symptoms can be detected as early as 30. Onset as early as that is rare but possible. Any diagnosis before the age of 65 is considered early-onset.
Early detection is seen as a core public health strategy. An early diagnosis can improve the quality of care and quality of life and may reduce the financial and emotional impact of the disease. Lessening the physical, mental, and financial burdens are lessened for both the patients and caregivers is of interest not only for the people personally affected but for society in general and the healthcare industry. Health and long-term care costs are lower in people with diagnosed and managed mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia.
Be mindful of the warnings signs below for yourself and your loved ones:
Failure to keep track of finances
Cognitive impairments can make things like math, reading, or writing harder. This can affect someone’s ability to do tasks like handling money and paying bills.
Changes in mood
Mood changes are common with dementia. If someone becomes more easily irritable, or they aren’t as lively in conversation, it could be a warning sign of the disease.
Someone with memory loss can easily misplace things. If this becomes a common trend in someone’s life, and starts to greatly disrupt their daily activities, it could be a dementia warning sign.
Reference the above list for specific examples, however, the key difference is the level of life disruption. Memory loss related to dementia disrupts daily life. Examples include getting lost in a familiar place or repeating questions.
Memory loss disrupts daily life, such as getting lost in a familiar place or repeating questions.
Inability to complete daily tasks
Keep track of when tasks around the house like laundry or dishes become difficult due to physical and mental challenges. Those tasks include many steps and can be complicated for someone living with dementia. Someone living with the disease could forget how to do laundry, could wash dishes or laundry but not dry them, or could be too physically frail eventually to do these tasks.
2022 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures
A big part of spreading awareness is having the facts right. Here’s the Annual Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures report, which t reveals the burden of Alzheimer’s and dementia.