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 In honor of National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, The Rosewood is actively spreading awareness about the disease and its symptoms.

As November unfolds, we step into Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, a crucial period dedicated to heightening awareness about Alzheimer’s disease. With over 6 million Americans grappling with Alzheimer’s, its impact is particularly significant among those aged 75 and older. Recognizing the global prevalence of this disease, advocates worldwide channel their efforts into Alzheimer’s education and advocacy throughout November.

At Rosewood Retirement, our commitment to Alzheimer’s awareness goes beyond this designated month; it’s a year-round initiative. Many of our residents confront Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, making this cause deeply personal. Our dedication to awareness and education is grounded in the relationships we’ve cultivated with these residents and their families.

In commemoration of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, we are 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.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that affects memory, cognition and the ability to perform everyday activities. The disease begins with short lapses in memory and eventually leads to more serious mental, physical, and behavioral issues. It is not a part of healthy aging, and there is no known cure for the disease yet.

In the brain, Alzheimer’s damages areas linked to memory, movement, thinking, and language. These brain areas are damaged by abnormal plaques and tangles in the brain, called amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary. Damage between neurons can occur as well. As the condition causes more damage to the brain, symptoms become worse.

Researchers aren’t completely sure how Alzheimer’s starts, but many believe it is caused by the buildup of misfolded proteins between the cells in the brain. These proteins eventually cause damage to the surrounding brain tissue, affecting the patient’s thinking, memory, behavior and more.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

One of the primary goals of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is to educate the public about the symptoms and signs of the condition. Understanding how Alzheimer’s disease affects a person is crucial for early detection, which can significantly improve the patient’s prognosis and quality of life. The sooner Alzheimer’s is detected, the sooner a person can begin treatment to ease symptoms and maintain functioning as much as possible.

Mild Cognitive Impairment, or MCI, is a condition that often develops into Alzheimer’s Disease. MCI causes memory and cognition problems to a much lesser degree than Alzheimer’s. Individuals with MCI are still typically able to perform their daily activities. However, those with MCI are more at risk for Alzheimer’s and it is important to watch symptoms. Monitoring symptoms under the guidance of a doctor can help determine if symptoms are improving or progressing and can help doctors create a plan of care to address the condition.

Symptoms of Mild Cognitive Impairment

  • Losing things often
  • Forgetting about appointments or important events
  • Difficulty coming up with words

It should be noted that while some memory issues are normal for healthy aging individuals, repeated instances may signify mild cognitive impairment. Losing important items or forgetting an appointment from time to time is to be expected, but when these moments of forgetfulness become more frequent, it is crucial to see a doctor.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
With Alzheimer’s disease, the symptoms of MCI are much more pronounced and additional symptoms typically occur.

  • Losing things often
  • Forgetting about appointments or important events
  • Difficulty coming up with words
  • Repeating questions or stories over and over
  • Trouble having conversations
  • Trouble reading or writing
  • Difficulty handling payments and money
  • Difficulty with daily activities
  • Becoming lost in familiar places
  • Hallucinations, delusions and paranoia

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease will vary from person to person, so it is critical to monitor any changes in symptoms over time. This will give doctors an understanding of the individual’s normal level of functioning which will help them determine the progression of symptoms.

Symptom Management and Treatment

While a definitive cure for Alzheimer’s disease remains elusive, there are several prescription drugs tailored to symptom management and potential disease intervention. Notably, FDA-approved Alzheimer’s treatments work best 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, other methods for symptom management involve engaging activities that foster memory and thinking. 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 number of families affected by Alzheimer’s 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 the Rosewood, 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 can contribute to timely detection, leading to better care and support.

2. Provide 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 support 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.