November is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month and National Caregiver Month.
After working in the field of aging for sixteen years, I have found that this is a topic no one wants to learn about until it affects them. Here are some facts about Alzheimer's disease:
- In 2015 – 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer's Disease
- In the United States, there are more than 15 million Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers.
- On average, one in every three people knows someone with Alzheimer's disease.
Something that people often wonder about is the difference between Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Think about dementia as an umbrella term or a generic term like car. If I say that I drive a car - you have a rough idea what I am talking about but you don't know what type of "car" I have. Just like if a doctor says that someone has dementia, you don't know what specific type of dementia they have.
The word dementia describes an array of symptoms. You don't have to have all of them to be diagnosed with dementia. But, if you have two or three that affect cognitive function enough to inhibit daily function, there could be concern.
If your loved one is ever diagnosed with dementia, ask the doctor what kind of dementia they have. There are different types of dementia just as there are many types of cars. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia. It is projected that 60% to 80% of all cases of dementia are of the Alzheimer's type. Some other common forms of dementia include: vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, Lewy Body, Parkinson's related dementia, just to name a few.
The Alzheimer's Association is a great resource for more information. They have a caregiver hot-line that you can call for help, caregiving tips and additional information 24/7 at 1-800-272-3900.