Nations Oldest Home Care Provider Educates Public During National Alzheimers Awareness Month

November is National Alzheimers Awareness Month. As many as five million Americans suffer from Alzheimers disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Watching a loved ones memory and personality slip away due to Alzheimers is devastating.

This month is the time to focus on this disease so that we can move towards a cure.

National Alzheimers Awareness Month aims to enable the public to express their support for the people living with Alzheimers disease and those who care for them, as well as raise awareness about the search for a cure to Alzheimers disease.

Chris Kelly, Director of Learning and Development at Griswold Home Care, first got involved in raising awareness for Alzheimers after his grandmother lost a 13-year battle with the disease. Kelly has since spent his career working with Alzheimers patients.

Kelly says, Government and advocacy organizations have called out low awareness as a key barrier to early, effective Alzheimers recognition, diagnosis and treatment. Great work is being done, but we need to further empower people with Alzheimers disease, family caregivers, healthcare providers, and researchers with the funds, knowledge, skills, and tools to drive timely diagnosis and treatment.

We can start by increasing awareness of the new guidelines for Alzheimer’s diagnosis and treatment that were published by the Alzheimers Association, National Institute on Aging, and National Institute of Health in 2011, says Kelly.

The highest risk factor for Alzheimers disease is age. The number of people with the disease doubles every five years beyond age 65. That means that five percent of men and women between the ages of 65 and 74 have the disease, and nearly half of those over 85 are sufferers.

Read Griswold Home Cares blog post, Alzheimer’s Disease: What You Need to Know to learn more.

Besides age, the factors that contribute to Alzheimers disease are still under study. Scientists believe that genetics plays a role, as the disease appears to run in families. Beyond that, researchers suspect that certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes might contribute to increasing the risk of Alzheimers.

The symptoms of Alzheimers can range widely, from trouble remembering important events to unusual mood changes.

People with Alzheimers may have trouble with things like finding the right word, keeping track of a conversation, or remembering how to complete everyday tasks. A person with Alzheimers might become withdrawn and introverted, angry, or depressed.

For the loved ones of the person living with the disease, these effects can be incredibly painful.

Says Linda, a family caregiver, What aspect of our lives hasnt been impacted? [Alzheimers] changes everything. On an emotional level, you are slowly losing the person you love. The symptoms create a range of emotions that include sadness, anxiety, exhaustion, anger, and guilt for all of us. You have financial challenges and uncertainty. Your entire daily routine changes, and it is difficult to manage work and family. Having said that, it is nothing compared to what my dad is going through.

Many people share Lindas experience. In fact, the vast majority of people living with Alzheimers disease are cared for by family members. The CDC estimates that between 25 and 29 percent of caregivers of people age 50 or over provide help to someone with Alzheimers or another form of dementia.

The burden of caring for someone with Alzheimers cant be underestimated. Fortunately, there are support groups across the nation that help family caregivers manage.

Says Mary, a family caregiver, Your first step should be to learn about the condition and how to cope. Find a support group and be a sponge. This is where I learned the most. You also have to swallow your pride and ask for help. You cant do it alone. My doctor me told that if I dont care for myself, I cant be there for my mom. I have to keep this top of mind. Every now and then, I have to step away and do something for myself. It helps you refuel. It gives me strength. It also helps to be an advocate. It makes you feel like you are fighting back.

Family caregivers have tough jobs, but with the right, supportive environment, many caregivers find personal fulfillment in providing essential care to someone who needs it.

This month, we honor these caregivers, while championing for an end to this disease, which affects so many friends and families across the nation.

If youre a caregiver for someone whos been diagnosed with Alzheimers disease, or an older adult looking for more information, Griswold Home Cares CaringTimes blog is a fantastic resource.

Check the blog through the month of November for posts about Alzheimers, including topics such as warning signs to watch for and information about caregiver support groups.