Alzheimer's Awareness Month
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated November as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. At that time, about 2 million people in the United States had Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are currently 5.8 million people in the U.S. living with Alzheimer’s disease, and by 2050, that number is projected to climb to around 14 million.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting an estimated 60-80 % of people diagnosed with dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Dementia is a general term to describe the symptoms of mental decline that accompany Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases.” Although the symptoms of dementia vary by the causative disease and areas of the brain affected, all forms of dementia may share some common symptoms.
Alzheimer’s disease typically presents in stages:
The early stage may include:
- Impaired memory (often related to “short term” memory loss) and difficulty performing previously familiar tasks
The middle stage, which is usually the longest, may include:
- Increase in memory problems, personality and/or behavioral changes, confusion regarding time and place, increase in wandering
The late stage may include:
- A profound decrease in physical abilities, decline in physical health (i.e.: incontinence of bowel and bladder),loss of effective communication skills
At this time there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Treatment and support is geared toward symptom management. This often involves a multidisciplinary approach. It is important to discuss all questions and concerns with a health care provider who specializes in treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
The National Task Group on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia Practices (NTG) promotes the use of the NTG-Early Detection Screen for Dementia (or NTG-EDSD). The purpose of the NTG-EDSD is to offer family and professional caregivers a resource to record their observations regarding changes in areas of cognitive and adaptive functioning known to be associated with dementia. The intent is that caregivers will use the information captured on the NTG-EDSD to begin a dialogue with health care practitioners and that it will serve as an aid to shared decision-making.
Philadelphia Coordinated Health Care (PCHC) created an online training series on the topic of dementia. This educational series is intended to increase your understanding on the topic of dementia. It can be found at https://www.pchc.org/education/online-trainings/provider-staff