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5 things you should know about Alzheimer's
If you are a caregiver, friend or family member of someone with Alzheimer's disease, here are five things you should know.
More than 5 million Americans, and 510,000 Floridians, have Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, and that means you probably know someone affected by it. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills.
If you are one of the more than 1 million Floridians who serve as a caregiver to someone living with Alzheimer’s disease, you know it’s a tough job. To help you better understand the disease, here are five things you should know.
Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging
Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. While the greatest risk factor is old age, some people show signs of younger onset Alzheimer’s in their 40s, with genetic cases possibly appearing in people in their 30s. Younger onset Alzheimer’s affects people younger than 65. “They have families, careers or are even caregivers themselves when Alzheimer's disease strikes,” according to alz.org. “In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 200,000 people have younger onset.”
Alzheimer’s has no cure
Alzheimer’s symptoms worsen as time passes, and treatment cannot stop them. “Once a person starts showing signs — memory loss and problems with learning, judgment, communication and daily life — there aren’t any treatments that can stop or reverse them,” according to WebMD. However, treatment can slow dementia symptoms, and researchers are looking for better ways to treat, delay and prevent the disease, the Alzheimer’s Association says.
Early detection is important
Early detection of Alzheimer’s improves access to support services and provides an opportunity to make a care plan while the affected individual is still capable. Knowing the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s, which include difficulty completing familiar tasks and withdrawal from work or social activities, may help you notice when your loved one's memory loss is a concern. If you notice symptoms, make a doctor's appointment right away.
Loved ones can join support groups
Whether online or in person, support groups offer emotional support that may not be available in day-to-day life. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s takes an emotional and physical toll, so reaching out to people in similar situations could be vital for a caregiver’s mental health. The Alzheimer’s Association offers access to an online community, along with information to help you find a local support group. Never be afraid to ask for help because you need to be in your best shape both for yourself and for your loved one with Alzheimer’s.
You can contribute to research
You don’t have to be a scientist or wealthy benefactor to give to Alzheimer’s research. The annual Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is held in hundreds of communities throughout the United States and “is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research,” according to alz.org. The walk is catered to all ages and abilities, so anyone can take part.
The Alzheimer’s Association provides free, easy-to-use tools and staff support to help walk participants reach their fundraising goal. While registering for the walks is free, participants are encouraged to fundraise in order to contribute to the cause and raise awareness.