Guest post by Bethany Knowles Hall, Executive Director at Alzheimer’s Association, West Virginia Chapter
It is common knowledge that Alzheimer’s disease robs people of their ability to remember, but many people are unaware that Alzheimer’s disease is fatal, its symptoms extend much further than memory loss and early detection does make a difference. These are the “truths” about Alzheimer’s disease that the Alzheimer’s Association, WV Chapter is trying to spread throughout the month of June.
To improve the public’s understanding of the disease and to reiterate the imperative need for swift action, the Alzheimer’s Association is highlighting essential truths aimed at curbing common misconceptions about the disease.
- 4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and close to 15 million Americans are caregivers.
- Here, in West Virginia, we have 37,000 West Virginians with the disease and 108,000 caregivers.
- Being the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, Alzheimer’s kills more than breast and prostate cancer combined.
- Alzheimer’s is not normal aging. It is a fatal and progressive disease that attacks the brain, killing nerve cells and tissue which affects an individual’s ability to remember, think and plan. Although age is the greatest risk factor, Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging.
- Alzheimer’s is more than memory loss. It doesn’t only manifest itself through memory loss, it may appear through other signs and symptoms. Check out the 10 key warning signs to recognize in yourself or others.
- Alzheimer’s risks are higher among women, African Americans and Hispanics. African Americans are almost twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. Hispanics are about one-half times as likely. And shockingly, more than two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease are women. Women are also more likely to become a care partner or giver for a person with Alzheimer’s.
- Alzheimer’s cannot be prevented, slowed or cured. However, adopting healthy habits can reduce your risk of cognitive decline and help contribute to brain health. Learn the 10 Ways to Love Your Brain.
Show your support for those living with the disease this June by:
- Participating in The Longest Day on June 20th which honors those facing the disease with strength, heart and endurance, or sign up to start a Walk to End Alzheimer’s event. These special Walks are held in the fall all throughout the country and are a great way to honor your loved ones.
- Join the Alzheimer’s Association in wearing purple throughout the month, but especially on June 20th. Share photos via social media with #ENDALZ.
- Visit the Alzheimer’s Association website to uncover more truths about Alzheimer’s and why they matter.
Also, this past week brought an extraordinary amount of good news from Capitol Hill for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $400 million increase in Alzheimer’s research funding and included the Health Outcomes, Planning and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s Act (S. 857) in its funding bill. The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act would increase access to information on care and support for newly diagnosed individuals and their families – providing essential support for those facing this devastating, debilitating disease. It would also ensure that an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis is documented in the individual’s medical record.
If you or someone you know needs some direction about care, support, research or resources, please visit www.alz.org or call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline at 1.800.272.3900 where you can you speak to a dementia care specialist day or night. The Alzheimer’s Association, no matter where you live, provides support groups, care consultations, early stage programs, educational workshops and resources to cope with caregiver stress.