Okay, what do you think you know about Alzheimer’s?
If you are like me, you probably think you know a lot, but when I sat down Wednesday during a conference call with The Motherhood and The Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, I realized I knew very little about this debilitating disease.
1. Alzheimer’s is one part of dementia.
2. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.
3. It is the only cause of death that cannot be prevented, treated or cured.
4. 5.4 million people are affected by Alzheimer’s.
5. Someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every 6.9 seconds.
Frightening statistics. While we might not personally know someone who has the disease, it’s a pretty sure bet that we have a friend or family member who has been touched by it. The fact is, we all are effected by Alzheimer’s due to the increased rate of diagnosis and the impact it has on our medical system. My biggest question was how to tell the difference between normal forgetfulness and Alzheimer’s Disease. The most important thing to realize is that memory loss is NOT a normal part of aging. Sure, we all forget a birthday or an appointment or where we put our glasses, but forgetting where you live is not something that is on the normal spectrum.
So how CAN you tell if it’s Alzheimer’s? (These are taken off the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute website.)
- Memory loss - difficulty remembering events or information.
- Difficulty performing common tasks – everyday activities such as taking medications and doing household chores become more difficult.
- Problems with language – forgetting simple words, substituting unusual words on a frequent basis.
- Disorientation to time and place – getting lost in normally familiar places, forgetting the day of the week or time.
- Poor or decreased judgment – buying unnecessary items, giving away money or making bad decisions that are inconsistent with past behavior.
- Problems with abstract thinking – more difficulty with complex mental tasks such as planning, organizing and forgetting how to use familiar items.
- Misplacing things – finding missing items or things in unusual places such as finding car keys in the freezer.
- Changes in mood or behavior – ranging from a depressed/withdrawn mood to becoming more irritable and getting angry and upset easily.
- Changes in personality – becoming confused, fearful, suspicious, self-absorbed or dependent.
- Loss of initiative – loss of interest in normal activities; may sleep or watch TV more during the day.
Remember, only a doctor can diagnose Alzheimer’s. If you suspect a friend or loved one of having it, please don’t hesitate to get them to a doctor immediately. Alzheimer’s can be a very faced-paced disease and the earlier the diagnoses, the better options the patient will have in coping with it.
So, how can we all help? I’m so glad you asked.
Banner Alzheimer’s Institute has created the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry.
“The Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative is an international collaboration created to find effective ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease as quickly as possible.”
Anyone can join the Registry… IT’S FREE! Show your support for the doctors and scientists who are fighting every day in prevention studies, possibly participate in medical trials, and get up-to-date information about the programs the Registry is working on and progress on their research.
The only requirement to sign up is you much be 18 or over. With a current enrollment of 5,000, the goal is to reach 100,000 people enrolled by June 2013.
WE CAN DO THIS!
I was invited to be part of the conference call to raise awareness of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry. I was not compensated in any way and other than the Alzheimer’s facts listed in this post, all opinions are my own.