Did you know that September is also known as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month? Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and can cause progressive memory loss along with decreased mental functionality. Over time, Alzheimer’s patients have a harder time remembering things due to a loss in brain function and cell connection.
For aging seniors and their families, receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be overwhelming and quite scary. Many people are unsure of what lies ahead of them or what they can do to best preserve their health. These reasons are why it is so important to spread awareness about Alzheimer’s disease. Doing so can help people make smarter health choices, reduce their risk levels, and potentially even prevent the onset of dementia.
We wanted to share some important facts about Alzheimer’s disease to increase awareness of this condition in our communities and promote senior well-being. Keep reading to learn more!
As mentioned above, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for approximately 60 - 80% of all dementia cases. An estimated 6.7 million Americans aged 65 and older are currently living with this condition, with 73% of these seniors being over the age of 75. Alzheimer’s seems to strike women more with almost two-thirds of Americans with the disease being female. Black and Hispanic seniors are also more likely to contract Alzheimer’s than White seniors.
With the U.S. population continuing to grow older, it is estimated that the number of seniors with Alzheimer’s will also grow accordingly. By 2050, the U.S. may have 12.7 million seniors with Alzheimer’s within its population, unless there is a medical breakthrough to help prevent or cure the disease.
Over time, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease get worse. The disease may start with mild memory loss and eventually develop into severe cognitive impairment that impacts most areas of the brain. Memory, thinking, judgment, language, problem-solving, personality, and movement can all be affected negatively.
Healthcare professionals have noticed that dementia tends to progress more rapidly if the person also has other health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure. This is especially true if these other conditions are not being properly managed.
Stage of Alzheimer’s
There are three distinct stages of Alzheimer’s disease: early, middle, and late. During the early stages, people can still function independently and complete tasks such as driving, working, or socializing well with others. These early days of the condition can actually last for years and are known for being milder than the other two stages. Next is the middle stage of Alzheimer’s, in which brain damage starts to make more of an impact on a person’s thoughts and ability to complete basic tasks. They may struggle with finding the right words or putting on their clothes easily.
In the final late stage of Alzheimer’s, the disease progression intensifies quite a bit. The person’s brain continues to deteriorate and doing anything with independence will become very difficult. Seniors in the late stage of Alzheimer’s need lots of support as they will also become quite vulnerable to different types of infections, such as pneumonia.
Reducing Alzheimer’s Risk
Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This can be done by adopting a healthy lifestyle and making smart choices for our physical and mental health. For example, it is important to manage blood pressure and blood sugar levels properly, so they do not get too high. Being active in general is very good for preventing dementia and other diseases, and can help in maintaining a healthy weight.
Avoiding cigarettes and smoking can also go a long way in reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Smoking in particular can damage brain health and lead to a variety of diseases. Seniors and their loved ones should take a gradual approach to adopting healthy lifestyle choices to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
In conclusion, sharing information and building awareness about Alzheimer’s disease is a powerful way to empower individuals looking to reduce their risk levels and better understand the impact this condition has on others. Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is a great time of the year to help support better care and advocacy for those impacted by this difficult condition. Through proper planning and support, seniors with Alzheimer’s can improve their quality of life and boost their well-being as much as possible.