Alzheimer's is a disease that you may be aware of only peripherally unless it has touched your family or friends. January is Alzheimer's Awareness Month with the goal of increasing knowledge of the disease while decreasing the stigma associated with it. We'd like to use today's blog to provide links for additional information and support.
There are approximately 500,000 people in Canada suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. This figure is expected to double by 2038.
Researchers are still uncertain as to the exact effect of Alzheimer's disease on the brain, although they do know that cells are damaged and eventually die in different areas of the brain. The death of brain cells leads to dementia, characterized by memory loss, impaired judgment, and behavioral changes.
Although no one knows the exact cause of the disease, there are a number of risk factors that have been identified such as head injury, vascular disease, and gender. For example, women are twice as likely as men to develop the disease.
There are ten major warning signs of the disease:
· memory loss that affects day-to-day function
· difficulty performing familiar tasks
· problems with language
· disorientation of time and place
· poor or decreased judgment
· problems with abstract thinking
· misplacing things
· changes in mood and behavior
· changes in personality
· loss of initiative
At this time, there is no treatment to delay, cure, or stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Approved drugs temporarily slow the worsening of symptoms for about six to twelve months, on average, for about half of the individuals who take them.
The Alzheimer's Society of Canada has recently launched a campaign entitled: “See me, not my disease. Let's talk about dementia.” For further information, visit http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/AW13-home?gclid=CK3036GS8LQCFYxaMgod6zMACg.
It is vital for family members who are caregivers of persons living with Alzheimer's to seek help (without feeling guilty) to cope with the disease and to safeguard their own physical and mental health. There are multiple resources and support groups. For a list of Canadian web resources, see http://www.forgetfulnotforgotten.com/caring/resources/canadian-sites.
For those of you who live outside Canada, please take a moment to find out more about available resources in your country.