November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan declared this month for awareness at a time when fewer than 2 million Americans were affected by Alzheimer’s. Now the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s has soared to nearly 5.4 million and is projected to rise to 16 million by 2050, unless advances in the disease occur.
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting 1 out of every 10 Americans over age 65. The disease has a devastating effect on patients, caregivers, and the community. Symptoms of memory loss, confusion, behavior and mood changes worsen over time, often to the point that the disease interferes with daily tasks, relationships, and even safety. An estimated 18.2 billion hours of care are provided by family members. These unpaid caregivers experience stress, burnout, and accompanying physical and mental health problems at a high rate.
During Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, you can do the following things to raise awareness and join in the fight against the disease.
- Learn the signs of Alzheimer’s Disease. Early diagnosis and treatment can lead to a better prognosis. Knowing the signs is essential. Also, be aware of the differences between cognitive impairment that is normal with aging and dementia.
- Know and reduce risk factors for both you and your loved ones.
- Participate in research that could lead to developments in understanding the process and progression of the disease.
- Raise funds to support research and programs that help patients and families coping with Alzheimer’s. AccuCare Home Health proudly supports the St. Louis area chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association with an annual donation and the volunteer efforts of President and Founder Jacqueline Phillips. We have witnessed firsthand the valuable support that they give to local families. They are a great resource for those impacted by this disease. Their Walk to End Alzheimer’s takes place on November 18, and it is not too late to participate or donate.
- Talk about it. There should be no shame or stigma in this disease, in being a caregiver, or in needing assistance. Talking about it, online, in support groups, or in person, helps you and others know that you are not alone.
- Take a break. If you are a caregiver, self care is of utmost importance. It not only reduces your risk of disease, but also improves the care that you can give to your loved one. Ask for help, get respite care, get that needed break.
- Get help. AccuCare Home Health of St. Louis offers a variety of in-home health services to care for your loved one’s needs. We evaluate each situation on an individual basis to develop a care plan that meets each client’s specific needs. Engaging professional, compassionate caregivers can improve your loved one’s quality of life and help them remain at home for as long as possible. Additionally, the Alzheimer’s Association of St. Louis is a great resource for families and other caregivers.
This month and always, let’s do our part to advocate for those with Alzheimer’s Disease and their caregivers, as well as to support research to end this horrible disease.