September is World Alzheimer’s Month, which unites communities around the world in raising awareness about Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia. You’ll see an extended effort to reduce the fear, stigma, and unknowns surrounding this devastating brain disease through individual actions, community gatherings, medical facility programs, and government campaigns.
Many people still incorrectly believe that dementia is a normal part of the aging process, highlighting the importance of ongoing education about aging, brain health, and dementia. In reality, dementia affects more than 55 million people worldwide. It’s also the leading cause of disability and dependence in the elderly.
Last year 111 countries took part in World Alzheimer’s Month with 45 million social media hashtags, an increase of 125% over 2020. The world wide conversation helps bring awareness to the general public and forces governments to listen to the voices of the estimated 250 million people impacted by dementia either as patients, caregivers, or family members.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term for a collection of symptoms caused by a variety of disorders that affect the brain and impact memory, thinking, behavior, and emotion. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s, which accounts for 50-60% of the diagnosed cases. Other types of dementia include Vascular, Lewy body, and Fronto-Temporal.
While most dementia diagnoses occur after age 65, a small percentage — categorized as early-onset dementia — experience symptoms earlier. Thanks to diagnostic tools, physicians can now diagnose early onset dementia more regularly. However, the early age adds extra complications to the post-diagnosis care available to dementia patients. Post-diagnosis care is the campaign focus for World Alzheimer’s Month this year.
Peering into the Milky Way’s vast array of stars is awe inspiring. But the brain is just as incredible, with more nerve cells (over 86 billion) than stars in the Milky Way. When dementia damages these brain cells’ ability to communicate, specific symptoms appear.
- Concerning memory loss, like getting lost in a familiar place, losing things, or placing items in odd places.
- Difficulty finding the proper words.
- Trouble understanding what people are saying and repeating questions.
- Difficulty performing routine tasks.
- Personality and mood changes.
Although each person will exhibit different symptoms, eventually, they can’t care for themselves and need help with daily life.
Dementia is complicated and still cloaked in mystery as scientists have not determined what causes the disease. Researchers have identified more than 20 genes affecting the risk of developing dementia, and women are at higher risk for developing this disease. While some risk factors are unavoidable, a growing body of research suggests that 12 potential lifestyle factors play a significant role in preventing or delaying up to 40% of the diagnosed cases. Many of these lifestyle factors have to do with social and brain engagement.
- Physical Activity.
- Excessive Alcohol Consumption.
- Air Pollution.
- Head Injury.
- Infrequent Social Contact.
- Less Education.
- Hearing Impairment.
Currently, there is no cure for most types of dementia, so treatment and care are essential for patients, their families, and caregivers. However, physicians can treat problems such as restlessness and depression, and early memory issues may improve with medication. Dementia patients must receive regular care so doctors can develop a proactive treatment plan to improve their quality of life while adapting their strategies as the patient copes with changing symptoms.
Get Involved in World Alzheimer’s Month
There are ways to get involved in supporting global efforts in advocacy and awareness. The goal of this year’s campaign is to highlight the need for support for both patients and caregivers as they adapt to their constantly changing medical needs.
Many organizations offer tool-kits that you can use to easily spread the word with friends or local groups for education and event planning.
Alzheimer’s Disease International has a growing list of Conferences, webinars, and events for the month. Check to see if there is one happening near you.
Clinical trials continue to tackle the challenges of treating dementia as they answer questions about the safety, effectiveness, and side effects of new medications. Clinical trial participants are volunteers, and there is an ongoing need for more.
If you are interested in learning more about volunteering in a trial there are a number of places you can search.
About Generations Home Care
“Together we can do so much!” is the 2022 World Alzheimer’s Month tagline, and Generations Home Care’s personalized in-home care and support services are ready to support you. We assist those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and more independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.