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This National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, Riverwood Senior Living is raising awareness of the disease and its symptoms.

As we enter November, we also step into Alzheimer’s Awareness Month – a crucial period devoted to raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease. Over 6 million Americans grapple with Alzheimer’s, with a significant impact on those aged 75 and older. Recognizing the global scope of this disease, advocates worldwide channel their efforts into Alzheimer’s education and advocacy throughout November.

At Riverwood Senior Living, our commitment to Alzheimer’s awareness extends beyond this dedicated month; it’s a year-round initiative. Many of our residents face Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, making this cause deeply personal. Our dedication to awareness and education is rooted in the relationships we’ve built with these residents and their families.

In honor of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, we’re sharing essential facts about the disease in this blog. Our goal is to empower you with an understanding of Alzheimer’s causes, symptoms, and potential treatments, encouraging proactive health choices for yourself and inspiring your friends and family to do the same.

Understanding Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a brain disorder impacting memory, thinking, and daily activities. It begins with minor memory lapses, progressing to severe mental, physical, and behavioral challenges. It is not a normal part of aging, and as of now, there is no known cure.

The disease damages areas in the brain linked to memory, movement, thinking, and language through abnormal plaques and tangles called amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary. Damage between brain cells can occur as well. As the condition causes more damage to the brain, symptoms become worse.

Scientists believe the buildup of misfolded proteins in the brain’s cells may trigger Alzheimer’s. These proteins eventually cause damage to the surrounding brain tissue, affecting the patient’s thinking, memory, behavior and more.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) frequently transitions into Alzheimer’s Disease, characterized by less severe memory and cognition issues compared to Alzheimer’s. While those with MCI can generally handle daily activities, they have an elevated risk of progressing to Alzheimer’s disease. It is crucial to monitor symptoms under the guidance of a medical professional to assess improvement or progression and formulate an effective care plan.

Symptoms of Mild Cognitive Impairment:

  • Frequent misplacement of items
  • Forgetting appointments or significant events
  • Difficulty finding words

While occasional memory lapses are normal in healthy aging, persistent issues may indicate mild cognitive impairment. Although it is expected to occasionally misplace items or forget tasks, heightened forgetfulness should prompt a visit to the doctor.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease:

In Alzheimer’s disease, symptoms of MCI become more pronounced, accompanied by additional symptoms.

  • Frequent misplacement of items
  • Forgetting appointments or significant events
  • Difficulty finding words
  • Repeating questions or stories
  • Difficulty engaging in conversations
  • Challenges in reading or writing
  • Problems handling payments and money
  • Difficulty with daily activities
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia

Due to the variability of Alzheimer’s symptoms among individuals, continuous observation of changes over time is essential. This ongoing monitoring helps doctors assess an individual’s baseline functioning, aiding in the evaluation of symptom progression.

Managing Alzheimer’s Disease

While a definitive cure for Alzheimer’s disease remains elusive, there exist several prescription drugs tailored to symptom management and potential disease intervention. Notably, FDA-approved Alzheimer’s treatments demonstrate optimal efficacy during the early or middle stages of the disease. These treatments encompass:

Cholinesterase Inhibitors:

  • Typically prescribed for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s symptoms.
  • Aids in controlling cognitive decline.
  • Alleviates behavioral symptoms associated with the condition.

Immunotherapy Treatments:

  • Target amyloid plaques in the brain linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Hold promise for reducing plaque size and potentially slowing disease progression.
  • These treatments are currently undergoing testing.

Beyond pharmaceutical interventions, alternative methods for symptom management involve engaging activities that foster cognitive functioning. At Riverwood Senior Living, our Memory Care staff actively organizes such activities for residents with dementia disorders or Alzheimer’s Disease:

Cognitive-Enhancing Activities:

  • Puzzles designed to stimulate mental engagement.
  • Creative projects such as writing and painting.
  • Group social activities aimed at activating memory and cognition.

By incorporating these activities, our objective is to contribute to the mitigation of memory loss and enhance the overall well-being of our residents grappling with Alzheimer’s or dementia disorders.

The Importance of Year-Round Alzheimer’s Awareness

Due to the sheer number of families affected by the disease each year, it is critical for awareness to continue past Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. While there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, more treatments are showing positive effects and being approved for treatment. The more we understand about Alzheimer’s symptoms, the more likely we are to detect the disease early and seek treatments that can improve quality of life.

At Riverwood Senior Living, we hold a year-round commitment to Alzheimer’s Awareness for our residents, their families, and the community we’ve created here. By increasing awareness of Alzheimer’s disease year-round, we can:

1. Encourage Early Detection:
Early diagnosis can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer’s. Regular cognitive assessments and awareness initiatives can contribute to timely detection, leading to better care and support.

2. Provide Continuous Education:
Educating ourselves and others about Alzheimer’s fosters a compassionate and informed community. Share resources, organize workshops, and engage in discussions to increase understanding and reduce stigma associated with the disease.

3. Support Caregivers:
Caregivers play a vital role in the lives of individuals with Alzheimer’s. Offering support, resources, and respite care year-round can help caregivers manage the challenges they face and provide better care for their loved ones. Additionally, we can work with caregivers if and when they decide their loved one needs more specialized, supportive care in our community.

We hope this information has helped you understand what Alzheimer’s disease is and how it affects millions of people worldwide. Our goal in sharing this information is to raise awareness for those affected by the disease and their family members. The more we know about Alzheimer’s and other dementia disorders, the better we can manage symptoms and seek effective treatment options.

If you or a loved one have any questions regarding Alzheimer’s disease or our Memory Care facility, please contact us. We are dedicated to supporting families like yours through the aging process, and it is our mission to help families make the best care choices for their loved ones. Take an opportunity this National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month to share this blog or other informative resources on the disease so we can all be more empowered to take charge of our health journeys.