Did you know that National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month is in November? During the annual public education campaign, affected and at-risk seniors, their family members and caregivers are given up to date information and support. Also included in the campaign are advocates across health care, the legal field and nonprofit communities. One goal of the campaign is the dispelling of common misconceptions, as such it is important to understand that Alzheimer’s disease is a lot more than just old age and forgetfulness. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease currently affects more than 5.8 million Americans and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
Alzheimer’s, a brain disease, is the most common form of dementia. What is dementia? It is a general term for memory loss and the erosion of basic cognitive abilities. It is not a normal part of the aging process. Because the brain serves as the central computer for all of the body’s functions, affected individuals lose the ability to perform even simple daily tasks.
Forgetfulness and confusion, such as forgetting names, misplacing objects and mixing up times and places, may be the first symptoms to appear. Over time, the progressive nature of the disease will cause diminished thinking, judgment and behavior. Furthermore, jumbling words, difficulty expressing thoughts and emotions, struggling with routine tasks like getting dressed, and unpredictable behavior are all signs the disease is worsening.
In advanced stages, people living with Alzheimer’s can lose the ability to have conversations or respond to their surroundings. In addition, they may eventually become incapable of basic functions and cease to have the ability to cough, swallow or even breathe. People with Alzheimer’s disease live an average of just eight years after symptoms are first discovered.
Even though increasing age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease, it is not strictly an elderly disease. About 200,000 Americans under age 65 have been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Do you know someone experiencing abnormal memory loss? You should consider encouraging them to see a doctor. Skilled physicians can diagnose Alzheimer's disease with more than 90 percent accuracy. Although there is currently no cure, medical treatments can help slow the progression of many symptoms.
If you are affected by Alzheimer’s disease in any way, you are not alone. There is a worldwide effort that is fighting for a cure and organizing to support people in need during Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and throughout the year. For more information or guidance concerning related legal matters, contact our office today.