What do Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Glen Campbell, Pat Summit, and Perry Como have in common? Your first response might be that they are all famous, successful individuals. You would be right, but the one thing that they all have in common is Alzheimer’s disease. November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and now is a good time to learn more about the disease and what to do if you are concerned that a loved one may have memory problems.
Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disease that affects memory, language, thought and eventually, the ability to complete basic activities of daily living. Scientist think as many as 4.5 million American’s have Alzheimer’s disease and the numbers go up beginning at age 60. Scientist estimates that 50% of Americans age 85 and older have the disease. One important point is that Alzheimer’s is not a part of normal aging.
If you have a loved one who is experiencing memory loss, make an appointment to see your primary care provider as soon as possible. There are medications available today which help slow down the progression of the disease if they are started early in the disease process. Delaying getting a diagnosis reduces the ability to slow the disease earlier in the process.
If you have a loved one who has been given a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, get as much information as you can and look for a support group in your area. Explore programs in your area for individuals with memory loss and begin to look at senior living options for when living at home is no longer possible. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Care giving for an individual with memory problems is challenging and many care givers face health challenges of their own.
Alzheimer’s disease affects individuals regardless of their race, sex, social background or financial class. Getting up to date information will help you find the answers you need.