National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

The number of people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is growing – and growing fast. A recent report states that, in 2021, an estimated 6.2 million people aged 65 and older are living with dementia in 2021 — and Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. It’s predicted that without a cure, the number of people aged 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia will grow to 12.7 million by 2050.

In order to raise awareness, the entire month of November is dedicated to Alzheimer’s Disease. Keep reading to learn more about Alzheimer’s and local support options for you or your loved ones in Kansas and Missouri.

Early Signs & Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease beginning with mild memory loss and possibly leading to loss of the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment, according to the CDC

The Alzheimer’s Association has provided some early signs/symptoms of Alzheimer’s and examples below. If you are experiencing any of these signs, don’t ignore them! Talk to your doctor, or chat with us at KC Primary Care.

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life – Forgetting names or appointments, but remembering later. 
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems – Making occasional errors when managing finances or bills.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks – Needing help using the microwave or starting the dishwasher.
  4. Confusion with time or place – Getting confused on what day of the week it is, but then figuring it out later. 
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships – Vision changes related to cataracts.
  6. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps – Misplacing things from time to time and forgetting where they were left.
  7. Changes in mood and personality – Developing specific ways of doing things and becoming irritated when the routine is disrupted.

Prevention

Alzheimer’s has been linked to other diseases when it comes to prevention. According to NHS, cardiovascular disease has been linked with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

Taking these steps will be able to reduce your risk of developing these conditions, including:

  • Decrease smoking
  • Keep alcohol to a minimum
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Exercise for 30 minutes a day
  • Check your blood pressure and take regular health tests
  • Take your daily medicine

There is evidence to suggest that rates of dementia are lower in people who remain mentally and socially active throughout their lives. 

You can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia by:

  • Reading
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Trying new activities or hobbies 
  • Maintaining an active social life
  • Volunteering in your local community

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s: What’s the Difference?

As we know already, Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are often used in the same way, but they do have different meanings. 

According to Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s, “dementia is the name for a group of symptoms that make it hard to remember, think clearly, make decisions or even control your emotions.” Dementia is not a disease — dementia symptoms are caused by various conditions. This report continues to state that “dementia is not a normal part of aging, it is caused by damage to brain cells that affect their ability to communicate, which affects thinking, behavior and feelings.” 

The Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s states that “Alzheimer’s is a neurological brain disorder, which causes problems with memory.” Alzheimer’s is a specific brain disease that accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. It’s important to note that a person can have Alzheimer’s without experiencing symptoms of dementia. 

According to Healthline, “the biggest difference between the two diseases is that dementia is the term applied to a group of symptoms that negatively impact memory and Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease of the brain that slowly causes impairment in memory and cognitive function.”

Why is November named National Alzheimer’s Disease Month?

According to Alzheimer’s Tennessee, November was proclaimed National Alzheimer’s Disease Month in 1983, by President Ronald Reagan. November has been recognized to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and acknowledge the struggle faced by more than 5 million Americans and their families. 

Former President Ronald Reagan said on September 30, 1983, “The emotional, financial and social consequences of Alzheimer’s disease are so devastating that it deserves special attention. Science and clinical medicine are striving to improve our understanding of what causes Alzheimer’s disease and how to treat it successfully. Right now, research is the only hope.”

During the month of November, the Alzheimer’s Association has provided these eight ways to help a family living whose loved ones are struggling with Alzheimer’s:

  1. Educate yourself about Alzheimer’s disease
  2. Stay in touch with loved ones
  3. Be patient
  4. Offer a shoulder to lean on
  5. Engage the person with dementia in conversation
  6. Offer to help the family with a to-do list
  7. Engage family members in activities
  8. Offer family members a reprieve

If you see the color purple throughout November, it’s to honor National Alzheimer’s Disease Month! According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “purple is the signature color for Alzheimer’s because it combines the calm stability of blue and the passionate energy of red.”

Alzheimer’s Support in Kansas and Missouri

The University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center is one of the best institutes for Alzheimer’s patients and offers programs that empower, answer questions and provide tools for care partners and health professionals. According to the KU Medical Center, “KU devotes its time to discovering and innovating studies, investigational medicine trials and exercise and lifestyle intervention trials for Alzheimer’s.” At KU Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, they are doing more than imagining the future, they’re doing the work to make it real! To learn more about what KU Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center has to offer, click here

Along with National Alzheimer’s Disease Month, November is also known as National Family Caregiver Month too. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the Heart of America Chapter is “the premier source of information and support for the 50,000 individuals and 200,000 family members and care partners living with dementia in the Kansa City area. Heart of America has been serving 65 counties in Kansas and Missouri with Alzheimer’s caregivers. They fund advancements in research to prevent, treat and ultimately conquer Alzheimer’s.” The Heart of America volunteers raise awareness and advocate for the needs and rights of people with Alzheimer’s. To learn more about the Heart of America Chapter, click here.  

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is one of the largest events to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Held annually in more than 600 communities, Kansas City and surrounding areas had the honor to host a Walk to End Alzheimer’s event. Some of the walks took place in Kansas City, Lawrence and Topeka, Kans.; and Liberty and St. Joseph Mo.

The Liberty, Mo. walk on Oct. 9, 2021, raised $44,617 with a goal of $43,000 and had 448 participants and 59 teams. The Kansas City walk on Oct. 3. 2021, raised $472,025 with a goal of $665,000, with 1,480 participants and 244 teams. Even though the events are now over, fundraising is still open! All donations can be made through December 31, 2021, to benefit from the further care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. To donate, click here

National Alzheimer’s Disease Month is a special month to raise awareness for those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In November, participating in local events to raise money for Alzheimer’s associations is a great way to spread awareness for your loved ones or family friends experiencing Alzheimer’s. Even though there is no current cure for Alzheimer’s, participating in events and raising money will eventually lead to a new cure to treat those struggling with Alzheimer’s.

KC Primary Care wants you and your loved ones to be treated with the most respect and care at our facility, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease. We care about every patient at KC Primary Care! We want them to feel happy and healthy every day of the year, especially during National Alzheimer’s Disease Month. 

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, please reach out to your doctor right away or book a consolation at KC Primary Care and Medical Concierge. KC Primary Care is here for all of your health needs every month of the year. Call us at 816.479.5222 or visit https://kcprimarycare.com to learn more about our services.

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