Great work is being done, but we need to further empower people with Alzheimer’s disease, family caregivers, healthcare providers, and researchers
Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) November 06, 2012
November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. As many as five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Watching a loved one’s memory and personality slip away due to Alzheimer’s is devastating.
This month is the time to focus on this disease so that we can move towards a cure.
National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month aims to enable the public to express their support for the people living with Alzheimer’s disease and those who care for them, as well as raise awareness about the search for a cure to Alzheimer’s disease.
Chris Kelly, Director of Learning and Development at Griswold Home Care, first got involved in raising awareness for Alzheimer’s after his grandmother lost a 13-year battle with the disease. Kelly has since spent his career working with Alzheimer’s patients.
Kelly says, “Government and advocacy organizations have called out low awareness as a key barrier to early, effective Alzheimer’s recognition, diagnosis and treatment. Great work is being done, but we need to further empower people with Alzheimer’s disease, family caregivers, healthcare providers, and researchers with the funds, knowledge, skills, and tools to drive timely diagnosis and treatment.”
“We can start by increasing awareness of the new guidelines for Alzheimer's diagnosis and treatment that were published by the Alzheimer’s Association, National Institute on Aging, and National Institute of Health in 2011,” says Kelly.
The highest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is age. The number of people with the disease doubles every five years beyond age 65. That means that five percent of men and women between the ages of 65 and 74 have the disease, and nearly half of those over 85 are sufferers.
Read Griswold Home Care’s blog post, “Alzheimer's Disease: What You Need to Know” to learn more.
Besides age, the factors that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease are still under study. Scientists believe that genetics plays a role, as the disease appears to run in families. Beyond that, researchers suspect that certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes might contribute to increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s.
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s can range widely, from trouble remembering important events to unusual mood changes.
People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble with things like finding the right word, keeping track of a conversation, or remembering how to complete everyday tasks. A person with Alzheimer’s might become withdrawn and introverted, angry, or depressed.
For the loved ones of the person living with the disease, these effects can be incredibly painful.
Says Linda, a family caregiver, “What aspect of our lives hasn’t been impacted? [Alzheimer’s] changes everything. On an emotional level, you are slowly losing the person you love. The symptoms create a range of emotions that include sadness, anxiety, exhaustion, anger, and guilt for all of us. You have financial challenges and uncertainty. Your entire daily routine changes, and it is difficult to manage work and family. Having said that, it is nothing compared to what my dad is going through.”
Many people share Linda’s experience. In fact, the vast majority of people living with Alzheimer’s disease are cared for by family members. The CDC estimates that between 25 and 29 percent of caregivers of people age 50 or over provide help to someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
The burden of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can’t be underestimated. Fortunately, there are support groups across the nation that help family caregivers manage.
Says Mary, a family caregiver, “Your first step should be to learn about the condition and how to cope. Find a support group and be a sponge. This is where I learned the most. You also have to swallow your pride and ask for help. You can’t do it alone. My doctor me told that if I don’t care for myself, I can’t be there for my mom. I have to keep this top of mind. Every now and then, I have to step away and do something for myself. It helps you refuel. It gives me strength. It also helps to be an advocate. It makes you feel like you are fighting back.”
Family caregivers have tough jobs, but with the right, supportive environment, many caregivers find personal fulfillment in providing essential care to someone who needs it.
This month, we honor these caregivers, while championing for an end to this disease, which affects so many friends and families across the nation.
If you’re a caregiver for someone who’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, or an older adult looking for more information, Griswold Home Care’s CaringTimes blog is a fantastic resource.
Check the blog through the month of November for posts about Alzheimer’s, including topics such as warning signs to watch for and information about caregiver support groups.
About Griswold Home Care:
Founded by Jean Griswold in 1982 in Erdenheim, Pennsylvania, Griswold Home Care is the nation’s oldest provider of non-medical home care. Once a small grassroots organization, Griswold Home Care is now comprised of over 180 territories nationwide. Dedicated to referring caregivers who provide outstanding, compassionate, and affordable service, Griswold Home Care is a leader in the home care industry. To learn more, visit our website at: http://www.griswoldhomecare.com and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
For more information about Alzheimer’s disease, including upcoming events in your area, please visit:
The National Institute on Aging’s Alzheimer’s page: http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers
The Alzheimer’s Association: http://www.alz.org/
CA Department of Public Health’s Guideline for Alzheimer’s Disease Management: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/alzheimers/Documents/professional_GuidelineFullReport.pdf