September 2021 is the ten-year anniversary of World Alzheimer’s Month, the international campaign from Alzheimer’s Disease International. For a decade, people from all around the world have formally organized to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia, however advocacy for those affected by this disease has been in place much longer by organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association, founded in 1980.
Although September puts a spotlight on Alzheimer’s and dementia, the other 11 months are just as important for research, advocacy, and local participation to raise awareness of the 50 million people who have dementia.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms eventually grow severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. It is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases.
In the United States alone more than six million people have Alzheimer’s, which is not a normal part of aging.
The greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and most people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. Alzheimer’s disease is younger-onset Alzheimer’s if it affects a person under 65. Younger-onset can also be referred to as early-onset Alzheimer’s. People with younger-onset Alzheimer’s can be in the early, middle, or late stage of the disease.
And it worsens over time.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. On average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives 4 to 8 years after diagnosis but can live as long as 20 years, depending on other factors.
What are Symptoms of Alzheimer’s?
The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is difficulty remembering newly learned information.
Just like the rest of our bodies, our brains change as we age. Most of us eventually notice some slowed thinking and occasional problems with remembering certain things. However, serious memory loss, confusion, and other major changes in the way our minds work may be a sign that brain cells are failing.
Alzheimer’s changes typically begin in the part of the brain that affects learning. As Alzheimer’s advances through the brain, it leads to increasingly severe symptoms, including disorientation, mood, and behavior changes; deepening confusion about events, time and place; unfounded suspicions about family, friends and professional caregivers; more serious memory loss and behavior changes; and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.
People with memory loss or other possible signs of Alzheimer’s may find it hard to recognize they have a problem. Signs of dementia may be more obvious to family members or friends. Anyone experiencing dementia-like symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible. Earlier diagnosis and intervention methods are improving dramatically, and treatment options and sources of support can improve quality of life.
Find an Event to Find a Cure
Throughout the year, events are held throughout the world. Below are ways you can support the research to help find a cure for this disease.
Ride to End ALZ
Ride to End ALZ is a virtual and in-person cycling event that challenges bikers of all skill levels to ride and raise funds for Alzheimer’s research.
Walk to End Alzheimer’s
Whether you attend in person or Walk From Home, you can make an impact by taking part in the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s.
Get Involved Locally
There are local Alzheimer’s Association chapters throughout the United States and the U.S. territories.
Senior Living Communities and Dementia
Senior Living communities are not only convenient for seniors ready to leave the hassle of home ownership – regular maintenance, cleaning and chores, yard work, etc. – but they can also help transition those affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
If you or your loved one is looking for a senior living community, call us at (866) 800-9110 to help explore communities near you.