I may not have any personal experience with Alzheimer’s in my family, but I am familiar with the heartbreak of having a family member start to go down that path. My grandmother turned 100-years-old this past March and over the last year or so, her brain function has begun to rapidly decline.
She was recently diagnosed with dementia. It was obviously a heartbreaking diagnosis for our family to hear. I have learned Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia accounting for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases.
Being 100-years-old, she has lived an amazing life and her mind didn’t start to forget until not too long ago. However, the fact that it is just starting now at 100, is a feat in itself. She is healthy otherwise, and we do have her in assisted care, so that gives me a sense of peace since her self-care and daily obligations are going by the way-side.
I am thankful that she does not have Alzheimer’s because I could not bear the reality that she may not remember who I was or any of our family members. I cannot imagine the heartbreak that families have to endure when a beloved member of their family has succumbed to this serious disease.
However, there is still so much misinformation about Alzheimer’s disease that most people don’t understand.
June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, a time when people come together to honor those who have died from the disease, support those currently living with it, and talk about the brain, Alzheimer’s and other dementias. This includes educating the American public and global audiences about misunderstood information about Alzheimer’s and the devastating impact of the disease and the urgent need for action.
Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month is focused on the truths about Alzheimer’s disease, and increasing public awareness, to erase stigmas and build support. Their ultimate vision is — a world without Alzheimer’s.
On June 20, from sunrise-to-sunset, the day of summer solstice is The Longest Day the Longest Day team event. It is a day to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimers.
I encourage you to “go purple” on this day in support of people dealing with Alzheimer’s and support their caregivers and family members. This includes wearing purple and sharing a photo with the hashtag #ENDALZ on your social media.
There are so many misconceptions when it comes to understanding the disease of Alzheimer’s. I have to admit that I also had some misunderstanding of what all Alzheimer’s is.
Here are some points below to help you understand important facts and the devastating consequences for people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, families and friends.
- Alzheimer’s is fatal. It is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the only cause of death in the top ten that can’t be prevented, cured or slowed.
- Diagnoses is key. As many as 5 million Americans live with the disease and by 2050, that number will reach as many as 16 million. However, only half have been diagnosed.
- Is not just normal aging. It is a fatal and progressive disease that attacks the brain by killing nerve cells and tissue which affects the brain’s ability to remember, think and plan.
- Age is a risk factor, but Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging.
- It is more than just memory loss. There are a variety of signs and symptoms. Each person’s symptoms are different through each stage of the disease. Here are 10 key warning signs that you should familiarize for yourself and your family.
- The risks are higher for women, African-Americans and Hispanics.
- Early detection is key. It allows better access to quality medical care and support services. It allows people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease early enough to participate in decisions about their care and future plans. It could also increase their chance in participating in clinical drug trials to help advance research.
- Healthy habits can reduce your risk of cognitive decline. Staying mentally active, regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet (avoid these 4 diet mistakes) helps to benefit your brain function. Staying socially active with friends, family and the community can also help your brain.
The Alzheimer’s Association works with caregivers to enhance care and support for all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Comprehensive online resources and information are available through the Association’s website at alz.org and the 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900.
Wear purple with me on June 20th and let’s show our support!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Alzheimer’s Association. The opinions and text are all mine.