By: Melissa Patnella, SPT
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s Disease is a form of dementia that occurs due to degenerative neurological changes in the brain and primarily affects those who are over the age of 65. The most prominent effects caused by Alzheimer’s are loss of memory, confusion, difficulty problem solving, trouble speaking and writing, and withdrawing from social activity.
How do I know if I have Alzheimer’s Disease?
Only 16% of adults over the age of 65 are receiving cognitive assessments during their annual check-ups. If you believe you are experiencing the early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, tell your primary care physician. You may see exams on the internet that claim to test for Alzheimer’s but speaking to your doctor is the best way to receive an accurate diagnosis.
What do I do if I have Alzheimer’s Disease?
- Be Open and Direct: Receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be an emotional experience. Create open conversation about your condition with your loved ones. Advocation for yourself and your feelings are important to open communication and mental well-being.
- Seek Support: 8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, so you are not alone. Find local or online groups for emotional support and social activity with others with Alzheimer’s. In addition, push yourself to avoid withdrawal from your family and friends.
- Use Your Voice: The number of people affected by Alzheimer’s is increasing. Your voice is important and powerful in educating those around you about your condition. Education can lead us closer to a cure.
What do I do if I have a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease?
- Create a Support System: If you are a care taker, remember that care taker burnout is a very real thing. Take advantage of online and local resources to ensure that you are adequately supported. You are taking care of someone in need; there is no shame in needing some support through your journey.
- Stay connected: Maintaining family and friend relationships is important for caretaker mental and emotional health. Make time to socialize and stay active in the things that you love.
- Use technology: MedicAlert+Alzheimer’s Safe Return is a technological device for your loved one with Alzheimer’s to wear. This allows their location to be tracked at all times and if they are lost they (or a person who finds them) can press the button and it will send an alert to you, as well as emergency services.
Resources for those who have Alzheimer’s:
- 1-800-272-3900: Free confidential 24/7 helpline for those with Alzheimer’s Disease to refer to local programs and provide education, crisis assistance, and emotional support.
- Alzconnected.org: Free online community for those affected by Alzheimer’s.
Resources for caretakers of those with Alzheimer’s:
- 1-800-272-3900: This is a free, confidential 24/7 helpline for caretakers of those with Alzheimer’s disease to refer them to local support groups and provide education and emotional support.