September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day. This disease may be one of the hardest to deal with as a family member. It is a disease that attacks the brain and can change the person you know and love into someone that doesn’t even know you. This must be emotionally draining for family and caregivers of the people with the disease.
So what is Alzheimer’s? It is the most common form of dementia (60-80% of cases) that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.
In Canada, women make up 72% of Alzheimer’s patients.
Alzheimer’s has no cure. However, there are treatments available and support for caregivers. Although Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life.
I know many people my age are dealing with parents and some level of forgetfulness. The obvious concern is that this may be the beginning of Alzheimer’s. However, almost 40% of people over the age of 65 experience some form of memory loss. When there is no “underlying medical condition causing this memory loss, it is known as “age-associated memory impairment,” which is considered a part of the normal aging process.”
But how do you know what is normal aging “forgetfulness” and what is dementia? The Alzheimer Society of Canada http://www.alzheimer.ca/ has a list for you to help determine if behaviors are “normal” or if they are a reason for you or your loved one to seek medical advice.
|· Not being able to remember details of a conversation or event that took place a year ago||· Not being able to recall details of recent events or conversations|
|· Not being able to remember the name of an acquaintance||· Not recognizing or knowing the names of family members|
|· Forgetting things and events occasionally||·Forgetting things or events more frequently|
|· Occasionally have difficulty finding words||· Frequent pauses and substitutions when finding words|
|· You are worried about your memory but your relatives are not||· Your relatives are worried about your memory, but you are not aware of any problems|
If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, the best advice is to ask your health professional. If you would like more information about support in your area, tips for coping with normal age-related memory difficulties and ongoing research, please visit www.alzheimerer.ca.