Do you have a loved one recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease? You will be interested to know that November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. During the month the annual public education campaign is dedicated to serving affected and at-risk seniors, their family members and caregivers. Advocates across health care, the legal field and nonprofit communities are involved. One of the main goals of the campaign is to dispel common misconceptions, such as the importance of understanding that Alzheimer’s disease is a lot more than just old age and forgetfulness. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association says that the disease currently affects more than 5.8 million Americans and 50 million people across the world and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is a brain disease. Dementia is a general term for memory loss and worsening 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 are often the first symptoms to appear, for example: forgetting names, misplacing objects and mixing up times and places. In addition, the progressive nature of the disease will cause diminished thinking, judgment and behavior over time. Jumbling words, difficulty expressing thoughts and emotions, struggling with routine tasks like getting dressed, and unpredictable behavior are all signs the disease is worsening.
During the advanced stages, people living with Alzheimer’s can lose the ability to have conversations or respond to their surroundings. In addition, they may become incapable of basic functions and develop an inability to cough, swallow or even breathe. After symptoms are first discovered, most people with Alzheimer’s live an average of just eight years.
The greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease is increasing age. But while the vast majority of affected people are over the age of 65, it is not strictly an elderly disease. About 200,000 Americans under age 65 have been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Are you or someone you know experiencing abnormal memory loss? You may want to consider seeing a doctor. Skilled physicians can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease with more than 90 percent accuracy. Even though 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.