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Could it be Alzheimer’s?

About 5.4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent neurodegenerative disease in the world. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia—60 to 80 percent of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s disease. It is a progressive disease— the symptoms worsen over time.

Most Alzheimer’s patients are over the age of 65, although the disease is not a normal part of aging. About 200,000 Americans have early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, with symptoms starting as early as age 40 or 50.

Although there is no known cause, cure, or prevention for this disease, there are treatments that can alleviate some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s or slow the progress of the disease. Treatment can improve quality of life for both the Alzheimer’s patient and family members, so early diagnosis is important.

How to Recognize Alzheimer’s

Here are ten warning signs of the disease from the Alzheimer’s Association:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speech or writing
  • Misplacing items and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from social activities or work
  • Changes in mood or personality

If you suspect that you or a loved one may have Alzheimer’s, the first step is to talk to a physician. Some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s may occur with other diseases, so an exam is necessary to determine what is happening.

The earlier you consult a doctor about difficulties with memory, mood, or personality, the better your chances of effective treatment. If the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s, it’s important to plan for the future before the disease progresses and the ability to make good decisions is impaired.

Educate Yourself

The Alzheimer’s Association offers a wealth of information and educational programs for caregivers as well as people living with dementia. Their Living with Alzheimer’s Educational Series offers resources for people with a diagnosis of dementia as well as information to help caregivers navigate the early, middle, and late stages of the disease.

The Greater Maryland chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association also offers a newsletter, safety resources, online resources, and a lending library.

Support Groups

A support group can be very helpful for learning strategies for dealing with the effects of the disease. Support groups are available online, by telephone, and at these locations in Frederick County: (Click the link above to learn about support groups in other locations.)

Brunswick Branch Library
915 N. Maple Ave., Brunswick, MD 21716, Community Room
Contact Terry Miller: 301.471.3146
3rd Wednesday of every month, 6–7 p.m.

Country Meadows
5955 Quinn Orchard Road, Frederick, MD 21704
Contact Debbie Savageau: 301.228.2249
2nd Thursday of every month, 6:30–8 p.m.
No Meeting in July
Respite available, call ahead

Early-Stage Group
For care partners and people with memory loss
Frederick, MD 21702
1st Tuesday of every month, 12 p.m.
Pre-screening required, call Cathy Hanson: 301.696.0315

Edenton Retirement Community – Manor House
5800 Genesis Lane, Frederick, MD 21703
Contact Jean Brown: 301.694.3100 or Leland Comstock: 301.807.3274
3rd Wednesday of every month, 12:30–1:30 p.m.

Somerford Assisted Living
2100A Whittier Drive, Frederick, MD 21702
Contact Jennifer Ahalt: 301.668.3930
1st Tuesday of every month, 4:30 p.m.

Thurmont Senior Center
806 E. Main St, Thurmont, MD 21788
Contact Terry Miller: 301.471.3146
1st Tuesday of each month, 6-7 p.m.

 

Additional Reading

Alzheimer’s Association: https://www.alz.org
National Institute on Aging: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers/basics

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