Millions of people around the world are directly affected by Alzheimer’s disease, and countless others, including family members and caregivers, struggle with the effects of this disease on a daily basis. This month, which happens to be Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, we want to highlight their struggle and support the ongoing efforts of organizations around the world dedicated to developing treatments for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Here’s how you can help:
Before spreading the word about Alzheimer’s, spend some time learning more about it! The Alzheimer’s Association’s official website offers plenty of excellent information on Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. After learning more about Alzheimer’s disease, you’ll be in a much better position to support those affected by the disease. You’ll also have a much greater understanding of how difficult it can be to care for someone with Alzheimer’s. If you’d just like a quick overview, the following information explains what Alzheimer’s disease is, how it affects the brain, and what the available treatments are:
- What Is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, and it can cause significant problems with both cognitive function and behavior. Its symptoms develop slowly (typically over the course of several years), with those suffering from late-stage Alzheimer’s often unable to respond to people or their environment appropriately.
- What Does It Do to the Brain?
Alzheimer’s disease is a protein-misfolding disease, which is largely caused by the plaque accumulation of misfolded amyloid-beta protein in the brain. It’s suspected that the accumulation of this plaque and another substance known as tau protein is responsible for blocking nerve-cell communication, which eventually results in nerve-cell death. When nerve cells die, memory problems and other Alzheimer’s symptoms begin to surface.
- What Treatments Are Available?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s disease yet, but there are several treatments currently available that have been shown to slow its progression and improve quality of life for those affected by it. These treatments include medications formulated to improve cognitive functioning, methods for managing behavioral changes, and therapies for those who experience sleep disturbances.
Know the Signs
Knowing the warning signs of Alzheimer’s is also important. These warning signs might help you identify the onset of Alzheimer’s in a friend or a family member, allowing for the early treatment needed to slow its progression. If you notice the following changes in someone close to you, encourage them to consult with their doctor:
- Memory loss disrupting daily life
- Trouble planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Disorientation to time or place
- Visuospatial difficulties
- Recent problems speaking or writing
- Losing track of personal items
- Changes in judgement or decision making
- Social withdrawal
- Mood or personality changes
Getting the word out about Alzheimer’s is easy! You can spread awareness about Alzheimer’s disease in several different ways, including:
- Promoting the Alzheimer’s Association on Facebook
One of the easiest, most effective ways to spread awareness about Alzheimer’s disease is through social media. Visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s official Facebook page and use their frame as your profile picture through the month of June to show your support!
- Turning Your Classroom, Office, or Community Center Purple
Purple is the official color of Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. Make your support visible by decorating your community with purple all month long. Of course, when asked about the decorations, be ready to educate them on Alzheimer’s disease and the importance of their support!
- Participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s
If you live near one of the cities scheduled to host a Walk to End Alzheimer’s event, be sure to attend! If you’re up to it, consider registering to participate so that you can personally raise funds dedicated to Alzheimer’s research, support, and care.
Make a Donation
Another great way to show support for those affected by Alzheimer’s is by making a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association. The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and studies. Each donation helps fund the support of essential services and research, improving the lives of those affected by Alzheimer’s disease today while working on a brighter tomorrow for those who will be impacted by it in the future.
Are you close to someone who developed Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia? If you’d like to share your story with our readers, please do so by posting a comment in the section below!