November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. More than 5.4 million Americans live with this disease, and when caregivers are included, some 15 million people are affected by the disease.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. Dementia is a disease that affects memory, thinking and behavior in ways that interfere with daily life.
While some people develop Alzheimer’s earlier in life, most people who are affected by the disease begin to see symptoms after age 65. it is a progressive disease, starting with mild changes and becoming worse over time.
ALZ.org lists 10 warning signs of Alzheimers:
- Memory loss that gets in the way of daily life — not just forgetting a name for a moment.
- Trouble working out problems, such as math problems, or doing multi-step tasks like following a recipe.
- Forgetting how to do familiar tasks that used to be easy.
- Confusion about time and place, such as forgetting where they are or what year it is.
- Challenges with understanding visual information, such as colors or spatial relationships.
- Putting things in unusual places and being unable to retrace steps and find them.
- Poor judgement, such as having trouble managing money or keeping clean.
- Avoiding social activities or having trouble keeping up with group activities previously enjoyed.
- Changes in personality, including confusion or depression.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are treatments that can help improve quality of life for people suffering from the disease, and there is research being conducted all over the world. According to the National Institute on Aging, risk factors include age and genetic predisposition — but also lifestyle and environment. The NIA recommends that all adults follow this general health advice: eat right, exercise regularly, stop smoking or don’t start, maintain a healthy weight, and include socially and intellectually stimulating activities in your daily routine.