Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia: What you need to know.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease that slowly affects the cognitive and motor functions of the brain. Dementia is a term used to describe a group of symptoms such as memory loss, thinking skills, or other brain capacities. Alzheimer’s disease is a cause of dementia, but not all who live with dementia challenges have Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 50 million individuals worldwide live with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. 6 million of these individuals live in the United States. Although most individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are over the age of 65, approximately 200,000 people under the age of 65 live with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Advances in Treatment
In June, the Federal Drug Administration approved a new drug to treat the root causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Aduhelm is the first drug approved by the FDA for Alzheimer’s disease since 2003 and the first to treat the causes of the disease instead of the symptoms. Researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine assisted with three-year-long clinical trials for the new drug, which also included clinical trials and researchers from around the world. As a part of the FDA’s guidelines for its approval, researchers will continue to test Aduhelm in other clinical trials.
Caretakers of Individuals with Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Caring for loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can be a loving and rewarding experience, and it can also cause a range of emotions, including depression, anxiety, confusion, sadness, frustration, and grief. There are over 16 million people caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It is important to consider the health and wellness of these individuals as well as those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
We encourage caretakers of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients to do the following to maintain their own mental health and wellbeing.
- Ask for help
Caring for a loved one experiencing Alzheimer’s and dementia can place a great amount of stress and responsibility on an individual, and you do not have to do it all alone. Ask for help from other friends and loved ones where needed. If possible, look for caretaking services that can help alleviate some of the pressures of caretaking, either through private services or volunteer organizations. This can help provide some time during the day to care for yourself.
- Learn more about the diagnosis
Becoming educated about Alzheimer’s and dementia can help you learn more about how to help slow its progress. Ensuring that your loved one is receiving adequate sleep and time to exercise, along with a healthy diet, can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Keeping your loved one socially connected with others can also help.
- Join a support group
Joining a support group for caretakers in your area can provide much-needed time to socialize with others and learn about their own experiences navigating caretaking. Talking to others in similar situations is a reminder that you are not alone and that it is okay to lean on others for help. This can also reduce feelings of fear and isolation one might experience as a caretaker.
- Manage your stress
It is important to make time for yourself where possible to pursue your own interests and keep yourself healthy. Having at least 30 minutes a day of physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet can help you stay physically fit for your role as a caretaker and reduce your overall stress levels. We also encourage caretakers to stay mentally healthy by developing journaling routines and meditating daily.
Resources to Learn More
If you or someone you know has a mental illness, is struggling emotionally, or has concerns about their mental health, there are ways to get help. Use these resources to find help for you, a friend, or a family member.