November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, when we learn about the disease and spread awareness so that we may someday find a cure. In honor of the occasion, we have decided to discuss the specifics of the illness, as our own personal way of spreading awareness amongst our loyal readers and fans:
What exactly is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia (a general term for memory loss and other intellectual maladies) that causes memory, thinking and behavioral problems. Over time, the symptoms become worse and worse until it interferes with daily tasks. In the earlier stages the memory loss is mild, but as time progresses, people with the disease can no longer carry on a conversation or respond to changes in their environment.
What are some signs and symptoms of the disease?
- Memory loss that disrupts daily activities
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images
- New problems with words (speaking or writing)
- Misplacing things and an inability to retrace one’s steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
How can doctors diagnose and treat the disease?
Unfortunately, there is no one test that can detect whether or not someone has Alzheimer’s. Diagnosing the disease requires a thorough evaluation of a person’s medical history, mental status, physical and neurological condition. A doctor may also run tests such as blood tests and brain imaging in order to rule out other illnesses with similar symptoms, and to narrow down the possible cause.
With early detection of the disease, you can get the most out of the treatments that are available today. Though there currently isn’t a cure, there are prescription medications available to lessen the symptoms or at least make them more manageable. There are also many treatments and remedies on the horizon that are currently being tested that may perform better than anything on the market today.
How else can I help spread awareness?
Many organizations hold events that are intended to raise both money and awareness for the disease. One such event is the Walk to end Alzheimer’s, in which people can donate for the cause and walk for a cure. There are events just like this one all around the country this month, so be sure to find one close to you!