June is Alzheimer’s Awareness month.
“By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to reach 7.1 million — a 40 percent increase from the 5.1 million age 65 and older affected in 2015.”
– Alzheimer’s Association 2015 Facts & Figures
Everyone with a brain is at risk of Alzheimer’s. Learn the facts about Alzheimer’s:
- Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.
- Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.
- Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older.
- Alzheimer’s worsens over time. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
- Alzheimer’s has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
- In the later stages of the disease, a person with Alzheimer’s may not remember familiar people, places or things. Situations involving memory loss and confusion are extremely difficult for caregivers and families, and require much patience and understanding.
- Stay calm. Although being called by a different name or not being recognized can be painful, try not to make your hurt apparent.
- Respond with a brief explanation. Don’t overwhelm the person with lengthy statements or reasons. Instead, clarify with a simple explanation.
- Show photos and other reminders. Use photographs and other thought-provoking items to remind the person of important relationships and places.
- Travel with the person to where he or she is in time. If the person’s memory is focused on a particular time in his or her life, engage in conversation about recollections with an understanding that this is his or her current reality.
- Offer corrections as suggestions. Avoid explanations that sound like scolding. Try: “I thought it was a fork” or “I think she is your granddaughter Julie.”
- Try not to take it personally. Alzheimer’s disease causes your loved one to forget, but your support and understanding will continue to be appreciated.