Given the increasing prevalence of the disease, most of us know someone who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or who is helping care for someone with the disease. Nationally, the month of November is known as Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. Recognizing the need for heightened awareness of this disease, President Ronald Reagan made this designation in 1983. The Coral Gables elder law attorneys at Stivers Law discuss what you can do for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.
Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease
Most people associate Alzheimer’s disease with dementia and the loss of memory. While those are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, the disease is considerably more complicated than that. According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, deterioration of thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes. These neurons, which produce the brain chemical, or neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, break connections with other nerve cells and ultimately die. For example, short-term memory fails when Alzheimer’s disease first destroys nerve cells in the hippocampus, and language skills and judgment decline when neurons die in the cerebral cortex. Unlike many other diseases, such as AIDS, experts do not believe Alzheimer’s has a single cause. Instead, they believe the disease is multi-faceted with a number of factors influencing the development of the disease. Scientists are currently focusing on amyloid and tau proteins, whose malformation are classic characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease; however, other factors likely help determine who develops the disease, including vascular health, inflammation, lifestyle, and possibly even viral causes.
Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures
To better understand why Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is so important, consider the following facts and figures about the disease published by the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Health Organization (WHO):
- More than 6 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease
- Roughly 50 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer’s disease
- Between 2000 and 2019, deaths from Alzheimer’s have more than doubled.
- One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
- More than 11 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
- In 2022, Alzheimer’s disease will cost the United States $321 billion.
- By 2050, Alzheimer’s disease is projected to cost the U.S. nearly $1 trillion.
Participating in Alzheimer’s Awareness Month
Whether you have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, or simply want to raise awareness about the disease, there are numerous ways in which you can participate in Alzheimer’s Awareness Month this November. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) provides a wealth of suggestions, resources, and materials to get you started, including things such as:
- Spread the word on social media using the factsheet available for download on the AFA website.
- Changing your social media cover photo. Cover images are also available for download on the AFA website.
- Wear teal and post photos in teal on your social media. Include #WhyIGoTeal to educate people about Alzheimer’s.
- Create a fundraiser to raise money for the search for a cure.
- Schedule a memory screening for yourself or a loved one. You can get a free virtual memory screening through the AFA.
- Donate to a reputable foundation that helps care for Alzheimer’s sufferers or caregivers or that is conducting research into treating or curing the disease.
- Do something special for a caregiver who is caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.
Contact a Coral Gables Elder Law Attorney
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE webinar. If you have additional questions or concerns about Alzheimer’s Awareness Month or other elder law issues, contact an experienced Coral Gables elder law attorney at Stivers Law by calling (305) 456-3255 to schedule an appointment.
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