*This post on Alzheimer’s is dedicated to one of my favorite musicians, Glen Campbell.
Of the 35 million people in the world with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), Americans now account for nearly 5.5 million. If you’re not affected by this debilitating disease, be very grateful. 54% of Americans now are. That according to the Fisher Center For Alzheimer’s Research Foundation.
The aging of the baby boom generation is only going to increase the burden. According to the NCBI (the National Center for Biotechnology) “someone in America, today, develops AD every 68 seconds. By 2050, there is expected to be one new case of AD every 33 seconds, or nearly a million new cases per year.”
It is my hope that by bringing a greater awareness of this issue, that people will:
- be able to recognize the signs
- be more compassionate and understanding of those with Alzheimer’s. It is true that we tend to ignore what does not effect us directly.
- learn how they can help
Signs Of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease, simply shortened to Alzheimer’s, is named after German neuroligist Alois Alzheimer, and is now the most common form of dementia. It usually begins late middle age and is characterized by confusion, emotional instability, and lapses in memory. It is responsible for the progressive loss of mental ability.
Patti Davis relates,
“My father started growing very quiet as Alzheimer’s started claiming more of him. The early stages of Alzheimer’s are the hardest because that person is aware that they’re losing awareness. And I think that’s why my father started growing more and more quiet.”
It’s terrible to recognize that someone you know no longer knows who they are because their sense of self is being eroded and consumed by Alzheimer’s.
Actor Kevin Whately says,
“Dementia is often regarded as an embarrassing condition that should be hushed up and not spoken about. But I feel passionately that more needs to be done to raise awareness, which is why I became an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society.”
7 Stages Of Alzheimer’s
A circular conversation may be a clue that you’re dealing with someone with Alzheimer’s. The various stages of Alzheimer’s are marked by degrees of decline, and progression through these stages and their symptoms are sometimes difficult to diagnose because the stages overlap.
Dr. Barry Reisberg, M.D., a geriatric psychiatrist and clinical director of the New York University School of Medicine’s Silberstein Aging and Dementia Research Center, developed the system upon which this framework is established:
Stage 1: No impairment
Stage 2: Very mild decline
Stage 3: Mild decline
Stage 4: Moderate decline
Stage 5: Moderately severe decline
Stage 6: Severe decline
Stage 7: Very severe decline
To obtain an overview of each of these stages, click here.
Dr. Reisberg advocates the importance of memory check-ups.
Top 10 Signs of Alzheimer’s
According to the Fisher Center For Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, these are signs to watch out for:
- Memory Loss… such as difficulty remembering new things or forgetting names and appointments.
- Difficulty Performing Tasks… Occasionally forgetting why you came into a room is normal, but people with dementia find it difficult to perform tasks to complete everyday tasks or to remember steps involved in things, such as a recipe.
- Problems With Language… such as forgetting simple words, replacing words, or not knowing what they are trying to express.
- Disorientation as to Place and Time… not knowing where they are or how to get home.
- Poor or Decreased Judgement… such as overdressing on a warm day or giving large sums of money away to a telephone marketer.
- Problems With Abstract Thinking… May forget the purpose of numbers and how to use them, such as balancing a check book.
- Misplacing Things… It is normal that people misplace a wallet or keys temporarily, but placing things where they don’t belong, such as placing a watch in the freezer.
- Change In Mood or Behavior… watch for rapid mood swings from calm to sudden anger.
- Change In Personality… such as being confused, suspicious or fearful of a family member.
- Loss Of Initiative… such as sleeping or sitting for hours, not wanting to be involved.
Caring For Those With Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s caregivers are heroes! Those most deeply affected by Alzheimer’s are those tasked with the care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Leeza Gibbons says,
“Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is a situation that can utterly consume the lives and well-being of the people giving care, just as the disorder consumes its victims.“
Photo owned by Glen’s son, Travis Campbell. Used with permission. Thank you kindly Travis 🙂
In 2011, music legend Glen Campbell, The Rhinestone Cowboy, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. During his farewell tour, many of his appearances were benefit concerts, with proceeds going to Alzheimer’s research.
Despite this diagnosis, earlier this year, Glen testified (with wife Kim and daughter Ashley) at a Senate hearing in Washington, D.C., in support of more Alzheimer’s research. He also recently released an album “See You There” containing a dozen songs.
His family continues to speak up about the devastating disease that has stolen his lyrics and memories. In the Fall 2013 edition of Health Monitor, Ashley shares some sage advice to those dealing with Alzheimer’s:
“Make peace with role reversal… Show them the same respect you did before they had Alzheimer’s, without letting on that you’re babying them.“
To read the rest of her advice and other useful health information, click here.
To see more on Glen Campbell’s story, you can get your free copy of Preserving Your Memory magazine by clicking here.
Is A Cure For Alzheimer’s Close?
Currently there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease. It is responsible for degeneration and the eventual death of brain cells, which leads to the steady decline of intellectual and social skills, and, ultimately, premature death.
Given that, there may yet be hope on a number of fronts!
1. New methodologies are being developed to detect Alzheimer’s through the eye. See how here.
2. Recent studies on mice, conducted by the National Brain Research Centre (NBRC), suggest that ashwaganda extract, also known as Indian Ginseng and Winter Cherry, may reverse memory loss and improve cognitive abilities in those with the disease.
Here are their findings:
“Initially, mice with Alzheimer’s were unable to learn or retain what they learned, but after receiving ashwaganda for 20 days, this improved significantly. After 30 days, the behavior of the mice returned to normal.“
Aside from also improving learning, memory, and reaction time as well as reducing brain-cell degeneration,ashwaganda extract is also credited with these magnificent health benefits:
- balances blood sugar
- combats the effects of stress
- cuts cholesterol
- has anti-inflammatory properties
- provides immune system protection
- reduces anxiety and depression without causing drowsiness
3. Memory Games! Who knows? It may be possible to lay down new neural pathways by this method alone. Neuroscience has yet to weigh in on this with a definite answer. All that is known so far is that the onset of Alzheimer’s may be delayed simply by playing crossword puzzles and other memory games.
Foods That Fight Alzheimer’s
Courtesy of Alzheimers.Net, here are a list of memory-boosting foods that fight Alzheimer’s:
How Can You Help?
You have a chance to be a hero too! If you know of someone with Alzheimer’s, do not ignore them. Treat them with compassion and respect.
A number of organizations that conduct research trying to find a cure for this terrible disease, also accept donations.
Have your Say…
Has this post given you a better understanding or a deeper awareness of Alzheimer’s?
Has this disease gripped your family or someone you love?
How are you coping (or how did you) with it? Please weigh in on this important topic here.
I value your input. Thank you so much!
Have a memorable Monday, friends!