Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of Dementia in the United States, affecting an estimated 5.8 million Americans. It leads to memory, thinking, and behavioral problems and worsens over time, starting with mild memory problems and progressing into confusion and unawareness of surroundings.
How can Alzheimer’s Awareness Month make a difference?
Ways to take action may include:
- Become informed on how to be a successful caregiver for a patient with Alzheimer’s disease
- Raising awareness in your workplace through workshops, bulletins, trainings, etc.
- Donate to an Alzheimer’s Organization
- Walk to End Alzheimer’s – participate in this annual walk to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s research
- Participate in National Memory Screening to detect signs of Alzheimer’s Disease early
Whether or not you know someone with Alzheimer’s disease, there are many opportunities to get involved with spreading awareness.
Caregivers of Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease
One of the most important factors in the impact of Alzheimer’s Disease is the role of the caregiver. Alzheimer’s Awareness Month can be used to help caregivers become more informed on the steps they can take to provide the best care possible.
These steps include:
- Keep a Daily Routine – This will help in avoiding confusion and lets the person know what can be expected
- Don’t Overstimulate – Keep things simple and say one thing at a time. Make sure the person understands the idea before moving on to the next
- Be Reassuring – Try your best to make the person feel safe, comfortable, and at ease
- Don’t Yell or Argue – You may become frustrated and impatient, but keep in mind how the person feels. Be calming and patient.
If you are a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s, it is important to keep in mind that the care needed changes as the disease progresses, and it is necessary to become informed on these changes. When the person you know progresses into the later stages of Alzheimer’s, they may begin to present a danger to themselves as a result of decreased awareness of their environment. Therefore, it may be time to consider a memory care facility that can monitor and manage the patient.
Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention
It is equally important to take steps to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease as it is to properly care for those with the condition. Although research remains inconclusive on a clear-cut prevention for Alzheimer’s Disease, certain lifestyle choices have been shown to help support brain health and prevent other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, which have been linked to Alzheimer’s.
- Physical Exercise and Diet: regular cardiovascular activity benefits brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow in the brain. It is also advised to eat a diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and limit intake of sugar and saturated fat. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the Mediterranean diet have both been studied as being beneficial in prevention.
- Social Connections and Intellectual Activity: studies indicate that maintaining strong social connections and keeping mentally active as aging occurs positively influences brain health
- Head Trauma: Research has shown a strong link between serious head trauma and risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease, especially if the injury involved loss of consciousness. Examples of preventative measures for head trauma include wearing a seatbelt, helmet, and “fall–proofing” your home.