Alzheimer’s Awareness Month
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 5.7 million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s Disease, a number that is anticipated to rise to approximately 14 million by 2050. Every 65 seconds someone in the U.S. develops this debilitating and deadly disease which is now the fifth leading cause of death for those over 65, killing more than breast and prostate cancers combined.
While research and treatment options continue to expand each year, there is currently no cure for this disease. That’s why every June, the Alzheimer’s Association encourages everyone to #GoPurple in order to raise awareness and a greater understanding of this chronic condition which impacts so many.
Important Alzheimer’s Facts
Even as the number of those affected by Alzheimer’s continues to rise, there are still a number of misconceptions regarding its symptoms, causes and risk factors. Here are some important facts seniors and their loved ones need to know about Alzheimer’s:
- Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. There are numerous forms of dementia. However, Alzheimer’s accounts for an estimated 60 to 80 percent of all cases.
- It is not a normal part of aging. Although age is the greatest risk factor in developing Alzheimer’s disease, the memory loss associated with it goes beyond normal aging. While many seniors notice slowed thinking and occasional issues with remembering certain things, the memory loss and confusion associated with Alzheimer’s signals a complete change in the way the brain is functioning.
- The most common early symptom is difficultly remembering new information. Researchers have found that Alzheimer’s disease often begins in the area of the brain that effects learning. That’s why trouble remembering new places, people or things is often one of the first signs doctors look for in suspected Alzheimer’s diagnoses.
- Small changes in the brain begin long before symptoms start. The brain has over 100 billion neurons. It is the connection between these neurons that allow us to think, learn, remember, see, hear and smell. Researchers believe that Alzheimer’s disease effects these neurons from functioning normally, which over time causes them to become damaged. It is now believed these irreversible changes begin long before symptoms start.
- Those with Alzheimer’s generally don’t recognize their own symptoms. Unlike other diseases, those with Alzheimer’s don’t generally notice issues with memory or cognitive ability. It is generally a loved one or caregiver that is first to notice early signs of the disease.
- Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. The progression of Alzheimer’s is marked by seven distinct stages. At first, the individual is not impaired by the disease, but over time will begin to experience memory loss, difficultly forming words, behavioral issues and mood changes. In the later stages of this disease, many lose the ability to do basic tasks for themselves such as bathing, dressing, eating and in some cases, speaking. On average, those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their initial diagnosis.
- There is no cure, but there are treatments that may slow progression. Today there are a number of drug treatments and therapies available that in some cases can delay the progression of this disease. Early detection is key in the success of these therapies.
- Age and genetics are the most common risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s Disease. Seniors over 65 are the most susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s. After age 85, the risk is nearly 50 percent. Scientists have also discovered two genes which may indicate a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s, one of which is prevalent in nearly 25 percent of all cases.
Memory Support at Western Home Communities
While there is no way to prevent Alzheimer’s, there are a number of studies that support the influence a healthy diet, regular exercise, regular socializing and leading a generally active lifestyle can have on keeping the brain healthy as you age. That’s why at Western Home Communities, we ensure seniors have access to the services and amenities they need to keep both their minds and bodies healthy as they age.
We also provide dedicated support for those facing a dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Our memory support living option focuses on emotional connections, therapeutic recreation and active engagement in daily life. Our specialized neighborhood model provides the comfortable familiarity of a town-like setting to ensure residents feel safe and secure.
If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, contact Western Home Communities today to learn more about our living options and to take a tour of our memory support community, designed with the needs of seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in mind.