Alzheimer’s: Epidemic with Hope

Posted on 04/30/2014 by | AARP Mississippi | Comments

Pets Can Serve As Caregiving Companions(This story is by Margie Culbertson, an AARP Mississippi volunteer and freelance writer. Her photo is at the left.)

“Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s.” So says the Alzheimer’s Association.

Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death, and affects scores of people daily. According to the “International Alzheimer’s Disease International” and “BUPA” (originally, the British United Provident Association), in their co-written “World Alzheimer Report 2013,” Alzheimer’s disease is an epidemic. The report does not mince words. It states that “more attention needs to be paid to maintaining and enhancing quality of life; helping those affected, and their families to ‘live well with dementia’.”

Three worldwide conferences, held in three international capitals in September 2013, were designed to address the global impact of Alzheimer’s disease during World Alzheimer’s Month, which falls in September. The first event was held in Washington, D.C. The other two events were in London and Beijing. The report which arose out of these conferences did not mince words either. The report states, “Ten-fold increases in research funding are needed to re-energise the work on dementia prevention, treatment and care.”

The figures alone in this report are frightening: the number of people, worldwide, living with the disease will triple from 44 million today to 135 million by 2050. Because of aging Baby Boomers in the United States alone, health officials expect to see the number of cases rise to nearly 14 million by 2050. The report also includes six, no compromise, recommendations for leaders of nations around the world and their healthcare systems.

In response to the report’s findings of a global Alzheimer’s epidemic, “Alzheimer’s Disease International” and “Home Instead Senior Care” have joined together to host Living with Alzheimer’s: A Journey of Caring World Alzheimer Report 2013 Release & Roundtable Discussions.

Early Detection

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease is vital, and early detection incredibly crucial. However, many Alzheimer’s sufferers try to hide their symptoms, and thus get no assistance until their disease has significantly progressed. You can view a chart on “Early Symptoms Alzheimer’s,” a customer relationship site of a pharmaceutical company. It offers helpful information if you ever wonder “Is it Alzheimer’s?” concerning yourself or a loved one.

Another page on this site includes risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s. On the Alzheimer’s Association website, you’ll find “10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s.”

Make a list of any concerns you uncover while looking over this chart. Be sure to write down your concerns and questions about these warning signs and then take these notes with you to your friend’s, relative’s, or your own, doctor’s visit.

There are many, many sites devoted to the importance of early detection. A particularly helpful site is also one of the best. It is aptly named “The Alzheimer’s Early Detection Association” (AEDA). You can also call at 312-335-5191. Their goal is “to educate everyone about the warning signs of Alzheimer’s, the importance of early detection, and the resources available to help.”

Diagnosis

The Alzheimer’s Association says that symptoms can vary, but they offer a list of seven stages of the disease. These range from “No impairment” to “Mild Cognitive Decline” to “Very Severe Cognitive Decline.” Realize that symptoms can overlap, so be specific when you go to the physician. He or she can then make the best-informed diagnosis so that you, or your loved one, can start treatment right away.

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is always a shocking one. It’s hard news to digest. If you, or a loved one, are told Alzheimer’s is in your future or the future of a loved one, seek answers, seek assistance, and seek the best way to manage symptoms. And, remember, you are not alone in this fight.

(This is the first of two columns dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. Next month we will cover Current Research, Living with Alzheimer’s, and Advocacy. Then, subsequent columns will focus on different types of Dementia other than Alzheimer’s (some even reversible.) Finally, we’ll begin a second series, also on Dementias. We’ll cover how we can all help to prevent Dementia, and we’ll also debunk the many accepted “facts” which are actually myths about the aging brain. To contact Margie or gain access to her earlier columns, email her at humorandlife@gmail.com)