June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month. As we “Go Purple” and do our part to continually raise awareness and celebrate the advancements in medical research, it’s important to understand the disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder. Over time, memory, thinking skills and the ability to carry out simple tasks is lost. Although the disease does affect younger person’s, it’s very rare. Early-onset Alzheimer’s occurs between a person’s 30s and mid-60s. Late-onset symptoms, which is most commonly seen, first appear in their mid-60s.
Because the disease is progressive, it’s like the grass growing. Over time individuals may become “more forgetful”, become confused, disoriented, get lost in familiar places, lose familiar items or have trouble finding words in conversation. The disease is diagnosed by a physician who thoroughly evaluates a patient’s medical history, symptoms, current mental and emotional status.
Research & Hope:
Some of the new Alzheimer’s treatments in development target controlling the microscopic clumps of the protein beta-amyloid (plaques). Plaques are a characteristic sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Studies occur worldwide. Here are some examples of projects driven to find a cure: developing a drug which removes the plaques that have formed, preventing the destruction of the synapses (nerve cell connections), researching production blockers which reduce the amount of protein build up, identifying ways to prevent proteins from causing “tangles” in the brain and reducing inflammation- Alzheimer’s causes chronic, low-level brain cell inflammation.
Living A Quality Life:
Living with someone who has Alzheimer’s Disease can be overwhelming. Community support is the greatest asset for primary caregivers and it’s okay to ask for help: from day programs and support groups to private care in the home. As we reflect on Alzheimer’s Awareness month, remember it’s essential as caregivers we do what’s needed to manage life’s responsibilities: rest, ask for help, seek a support group and utilize available community resources.
When you need us, we’re just a phone call away. Learn how VNA can help. For more information, call 772-567-5551.