Alzheimer’s Disease

November awareness month

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. It is a progressive disease affecting nearly 6 million people. Keep reading to learn more about signs, symptoms, risk factors, treatments, and caregiving resources.

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Above are percentages of adults aged 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease by race and ethnicity1

6th leading cause of death among US adults2

1 in 9 adults over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease2

5th leading cause of death among adults aged 65 years or older2


What is Alzheimer’s Disease

Neurons are nerve cells that are constantly sending signals and messages in the brain coordinating our thoughts, movements, behaviors, emotions, and memories. However, in a person with Alzheimer’s disease, neurons progressively stop functioning properly, causing a disruption in the signals between neurons. This results in a loss of function and irreversible cell death. These changes in the brain can begin years before signs appear. Alzheimer’s disease tends to affect the part of the brain involved with memory, language, and reasoning first and the individual may gradually lose their ability to live and function independently as the disease progresses.

Ultimately, Alzheimer’s disease is fatal.There is currently no cure and treatment options available are limited and relatively new. Although much progress has already been made, more research for this disease must be done to create more effective treatments. For more information about how this disease affects the body, watch this video from the National Institute on Aging.3

Warning Signs

Often times, the individual exhibiting signs may not recognize it in themselves. So, it is important that family members and friends be aware of the warning signs too. Below are the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s and related dementia’s.

PLEASE NOTE: If you or a loved one are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it does not specifically indicate Alzheimer’s, but could be several other treatable conditions.

1. Memory loss that interferes with normal life
2. Trouble completing simple tasks at home or work
3. Confused about or losing track of time or place
4. Difficulty solving problems or planning
5. New, frequent problems with words (speaking or writing)

6. Misplacing items & unable to retrace steps
7. Problems with visual images & spatial awareness
8. Decline in judgement
9. Changes in mood or personality
10. Withdrawing from social activities

What To Do If You Notice The Signs

Don’t ignore the warning signs. Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider if you are experiencing the signs, or discuss concerns with your loved one experiencing the signs and assist them with scheduling an appointment or preparing for their appointment.

Early detection is important and gives those involved an opportunity for a better quality of life and being independent longer. It offers time to begin planning and getting affairs in order for care and the option to participate in clinical trials.

For assistance on talking to family members or friends about memory or dementia, check out:

Risk Factors

The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not fully understood yet. There is likely no specific cause but believed several factors that affect each person diversely. Those factors are:

  • Age: The most commonly known risk factor for Alzheimer’s and dementia is age.
  • Family History: If one or more immediate family members has a history of Alzheimer’s or dementia, your risk increases.
  • Lifestyle and Health: Increasing scientific evidence shows that healthy behaviors may lessen the risk of cognitive decline.4
  • Heart Health Connection: The brain is relies on the rich blood supply from your heart and blood vessels to work at an optimal level. When your heart and blood vessels are damaged from conditions like diabetes, hypertension, stroke, or high cholesterol, your risk for Alzheimer’s or other vascular-related dementia increase.

Prevention Tips


Support for Family & Friends

Caregiving is a special responsibility one can provide for a relative or friend with any health condition. It is not always easy and may come with challenges. A caregiver must have support and resources to maintain the level of care the individual needs. Bookmark the items below to prepare for or reach out for help when needed:

  1. Develop a care plan for the person being cared for, to summarize their condition, needs, medications, and providers in one place
  2. Learn more about respite care and begin planning for emergent or non-emergent situations
  3. Explore on-demand fitness classes to relieve stress and tension on your own schedule
  4. View presentations on work-life balance, meditation, stress, nutrition, pain management, spine health, and more
  5. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs: Dementia and Alzheimer’s Care – Resources for veteran’s and their caregivers through the VA

resources

Virtual Caregiver support

Find a Support Group

The UF Memory Clinic hosts a virtual Alzheimer’s support group the second Friday of every month at 12 p.m via Zoom. This virtual meeting is for caregivers to build a support system with others who understand the challenges and learn about community resources. This support group is led by trained facilitators of the Alzheimer’s Association.

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Resource Article

Getting Help with Alzheimer’s Caregiving

Knowing when and where to look for health care services can be an overwhelming task for a caregiver. The National Institute on Aging has compiled a comprehensive list of resources and services that may be needed when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. This guide explains what to know about costs and how to find services local to you.

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General resources

Emotional Wellness

Our feelings, thoughts, and emotions have a great impact on how we interact with the outside world and how we treat ourselves and others. Check in on your emotional wellness. Explore GatorCare’s collection of emotional wellness resources, including presentations, tool kits, mental health screenings, meditation sessions and more.

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gatorcare members only

Find a Mental Health Provider

GatorCare provides members with coverage and resources they need for mental health services* to cover members ranging from young children to older adults. GatorCare members may also be eligible to receive no cost counseling and psychiatry services through Talkspace. Click below to learn more or find a provider.

*View your benefit guidelines for specific details.

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Patient & Caregiver Resource

Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is a not-for-profit organization that has helped countless individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s for over 40 years. They offer a free 24/7 helpline, free educational and informative webinars on a variety of dementia and caregiving topics, clinical trial information, family resources, and much more!

Alzheimer's Association Logo

Community Involvement

Fight to End Alzheimer’s

You don’t have to know someone or be directly affected to join the fight against Alzheimer’s; everyone can be a part of the fight. Getting involved in the cause can take form in a number of ways: building awareness, becoming an advocate, staying informed, making a donation, participating in an event, volunteering, and more! Click the link below to find out how you can join the fight to end Alzheimer’s

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References:

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