Alzheimer’s is an insidious presence in the community. The dreaded “A” word looms large in the minds of many. You will be hard pressed to walk a block without encountering Alzheimer’s disease at work. It is in Vermont cities, towns, and neighborhoods.
Think of the your harried neighbor, her arms loaded with a week’s worth of frozen meals, calling out to her tweens to “hurry up!” After finishing a full day of work she is now headed to her uncle’s apartment to drop off his meals and pick up his laundry. Or, think of the house on the corner with the crumbling porch and sagging swing that houses an elderly couple. The wife with severe arthritis struggles to maintain the property, clean, cook, and fully care for her husband, who has a tendency to wander from their home in the night. There is the co-worker who is tired and exasperated because his mother fell and he spent the night in the ER….again, the little girl in your son’s class who wonders why her grandmother doesn’t remember her name. Because the word Alzheimer’s is often whispered and largely misunderstood, the prevalence and impact on our community’s social, financial and emotional fabric is overlooked.
Alzheimer’s disease is not a part of normal aging. It is a progressive, fatal disease that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior.
- Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.
- More than 11,000 Vermonters are living with Alzheimer’s disease and it is estimated that by the year 2025 the number of Vermonters aged 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s will total 17,000.
- There are currently more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s – including as many as 200,000 individuals under age 65.
Alzheimer’s disease is not only an aging issue it is a public health issue. With no effective prevention or treatment methods, Alzheimer’s disease has the power to bankrupt families, communities and our health care system.
Education is one of the most effective tools in the fight to create the best life for those impacted and ultimately find a cure. It may be hard to know the difference between age-related changes and the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Some people may recognize changes in themselves before anyone else notices. Other times, friends and family will be the first to observe changes in memory, behavior or abilities.
Know the 10 Warning Signs
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias is an important step in getting appropriate treatment, care, and support services. If you or someone you care about is experiencing any of the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, please see a doctor to find the cause.
The Alzheimer’s Association can help.
Visit: alz.org/10signs or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900 to speak with a dementia care expert who can help you navigate your concerns.
Jessie Cornell, MSW, has her master’s degree in social work and has had the honor of working for the Alzheimer’s Association for three years. Her passion is to empower persons with Alzheimer’s disease and their care-partners and all sectors of the society in their work to create dementia-friendly communities.
About the Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.