Your Health Matters: Celebrating Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

By C. Stone  November 2017 – Contributor to Empower Behavioral Health

Celebrating Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Did you know November is National Alzheimer’s and Dementia Awareness Month?

This month is extremely important, as a 2016 study showed that over 5.5 million Americans of all ages are living with this debilitating disease, and someone develops it every 66 seconds. Alzheimer’s is also the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, killing more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
Alzheimer’s does not just affect those with the disease as it is estimated that over 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia which equates to an estimated 18.2 billion hours of care valued at over 2.3 billion dollars.
The costs of health care and long-term care for individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementia’s are substantial, and dementia is one of the costliest conditions to society. Total payments in 2017 for all individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementia’s are estimated at $259 billion yearly. Despite these starting statistics, however, there are still quite a number of misconceptions surrounding Alzheimer’s.
Here are some commonly held beliefs:
  • Dementia is a normal part of aging.

This is partially true, as many of us find that our memory isn’t what it once was as we age. But, it’s important to distinguish between a normal aging and true memory loss. As Galvin, a neurology and psychiatry professor at New York University’s Langone Medical Center says, “It may take you longer to remember where you put something or a name, but you’re able to get back to it. That’s not memory loss, that’s aging. If you’re forgetting important things like loved ones’ names or if it impacts your ability to function or there are things you can no longer do because of memory problems, seek evaluation.”   

  • Only old people get Alzheimer’s.

It is true that age is the biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease: One out of eight people 65 and older have it.

But there is such a thing as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which starts before age 65. Which accounts for  5% to 10% of all U.S. Alzheimer’s cases — about 200,000 people.

  • Dementia is the same as Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a loss of memory caused by changes in the brain. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.  Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, in its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions. Everyone who has Alzheimer’s has dementia, but not everyone that has dementia has Alzheimer’s as there are more than 70 different causes of dementia, including strokes, Parkinson’s disease,  and Pick’s disease.


 So, how are you going to celebrate Alzheimer’s Awareness Month? 
Here are a few ideas: 
  1. Walk in your local Walk to End Alzheimer’s event
  2. Educate yourself- and others
  3. Make a donation to an Alzheimer’s organization
  4. Participate in National Memory Screening
  5. And if you or a loved one has been affected by Alzheimer’s, share your story



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