By Misty Kevech, HHQI RN Project Coordinator
June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. The Alzheimer’s Association highlights this month long awareness with a celebration of “The Longest Day” on June 21st. You are encouraged to wear purple throughout the month and especially on the 21st. So what do you have that’s PURPLE in your closet that you can wear?
Wearing purple allows us to open up a dialog with people we meet about Alzheimer’s including the 10 early signs and symptoms (FYI – the list is also available in several languages). Approximately 60-80% of dementia patients have Alzheimer’s disease. But in many ways the issues are the same with or without the diagnosis.
Over the last decade, research has made strides but we are still a long way from a cure or adequate treatment. More awareness leads to more money for research and medications. Every day there are now 10,000 people turning 65 years old resulting in enormous numbers of seniors who may have or will soon suffer from this unfortunate disease.
You know how frustrating it is when you can’t remember where you left your keys, what you were to pick up at the store, or what day of the week it is (I do that one daily).
- What would it feel like to forget regularly during the day?
- How embarrassing would it be to run into people that know you and you have no idea who they are? Would you want to isolation yourself and stay home?
- How frustrating would it be on your family when you asked the same question multiple times in a matter of minutes?
- What would it be like to not remember if you ate today or not? Would you eat again or not all?
- How sad would it be for your family to see your memory slipping slowly away?
- Which is worse a physical or mental disease? Both are bad, but can you imagine your memory continuing to decline and not knowing your loved ones, but your body goes on and on?
This blog post is not intended to be depressing. It is intended to help you put your feet into their shoes – both the person with Alzheimer’s and the family. As health professionals we need to use our empathy to help share information about medications and activities that can slow the progress, but also caregiver support, stress reduction, and community resources.
- Learn more about the social and emotional effects of Alzheimer’s this month by doing one of the following:
- Listen to a great webinar, Alzheimer’s Disease: A New Way of Understanding for the Home Care Worker, by Jane Marks
- Read the book (or watch the movie), Still Alice or any other similar book
- Watch the The Universal Language of Caregiving: What We Need to Know webinar by Kim Linder
- Visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s website to learn more about living with the disease
Also, remember to wear PURPLE as much as possible this month and share information about Alzheimer’s. Send HHQI photos of yourself and/or with friends wearing PURPLE!