Senior Living Blog

September is World Alzheimer’s Month

September 10, 2022

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September has been designated as World Alzheimer’s Month, calling attention to the 55 million people worldwide who are dealing with this devastating disease. At the most recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, researchers and advocates celebrated the advances that have been made in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

“With record public and private research investment it’s an exciting time for Alzheimer’s and dementia research,” said Heather M. Snyder, Ph.D., the Association’s vice president of medical and scientific relations. “Researchers are advancing our understanding of the disease by exploring biomarkers, discovering potential ways to reduce risk, and working to move promising treatments and diagnostic tools forward into clinical testing. The Alzheimer’s Association is leading the fight through funding, convening, publishing, partnerships, advocacy and services.”

The pandemic has had a big effect on research into cognitive decline and the health of people living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. In 2020, COVID-19 contributed to a 17% increase in Alzheimer’s and dementia deaths. Researchers are still attempting to understand the way COVID-10 changes our brains, and what that might mean for the future of brain health.

“COVID-19 has sickened and killed millions of people around the world, and for some, the emerging research suggests there are long-term impacts on memory and thinking as well,” said Snyder. “As this virus will likely be with us for a long time, identifying the risk and protective factors for cognitive symptoms can assist with the treatment and prevention of ‘long COVID’ moving forward.”

Beyond the people who are living with the disease, Alzheimer’s affects many other Americans. Today, 15 million people in the United States are providing care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia. These unpaid heroes are a vital part of our nation’s healthcare system, and there is increased recognition of the importance of supporting them. Did you know studies show that caregivers may be at higher risk for a wide array of health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and depression? The American Geriatrics Association even states that Alzheimer’s caregivers are themselves at greater risk of developing dementia.

The reason? Family caregivers are less likely to take care of their own health, and are more likely to experience stress and isolation that lead to higher levels of harmful hormones in the body. Caregivers should remember that caring for their own health and taking advantage of support services is an important part of caring for their loved one.

Alzheimer’s disease also has an incredible economic effect. Unpaid caregivers provide an estimated $271 billion dollars worth of care in the U.S. alone. Two-thirds of this unpaid labor is provided by women, and a full third of all dementia caregivers are daughters of the person living with dementia. Experts say the country is not fully prepared to deal with our aging population. As the number of older adults in the country grows, so will the number of older adults with Alzheimer’s and the people who will care for them. The Alzheimer’s Association predicts that the United States will have to nearly triple the number of geriatricians to effectively care for the number of people projected to have Alzheimer’s in 2050.

That’s why it is so important to recognize September as world Alzheimer’s month and join the movement to make Alzheimer’s recognition and management a priority in our communities.

Categories: Senior Health