June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month.
June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, and the Alzheimer’s Association — along with advocates in the early stages of the disease — encourage families to talk about memory and cognition concerns sooner. These advocates know first-hand that an early diagnosis offers many benefits, including access to more effective medical and lifestyle interventions and the ability to take an active role in planning with family members for the future.
“Denial and rationalization are common responses to the early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s ─ it was a part of my experience,” said Darrell Foss, a member of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Early-Stage Advisory Group, which is composed of people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. “Too often, people experiencing symptoms or family members seeing them wait to speak up, even when they know something is wrong. It can be scary, but that is why I’m sharing my personal experience ─ to illustrate why talking about Alzheimer’s concerns early is so important.”
Should warning signs appear, it is important to talk about them with the person experiencing symptoms and encourage them to speak with a medical professional.
“A dementia diagnosis can often leave individuals and families with feelings of fear, anxiety and loneliness. It can be difficult to know what to do and who to turn to, but the Alzheimer’s Association is here to help calm those worries and connect you with services and resources to help you. You are not alone in this disease,” said Stacy Tew-Lovasz, Alzheimer’s Association Greater Missouri Chapter President.
The Alzheimer’s Association Greater Missouri Chapter helps families and friends navigate challenges and considerations at each stage of the disease, through face-to-face conversations with experts, our free 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900) and comprehensive support and resources on alz.org/greatermissouri.
To help families overcome common communication obstacles, the Alzheimer’s Association is offering 6 Tips for Approaching Alzheimer’s, a list of best practices for talking about the disease with someone who may be experiencing symptoms. These include:
• Have the conversation as early as possible.
• Think about who’s best suited to have the conversation.
• Practice conversation starters.
• Offer support and companionship.
• Anticipate gaps in self-awareness.
• Recognize the conversation may not go as planned.
For more on these tips, go to alz.org/6Tips.
Understanding the value of an early Alzheimer’s diagnosis
There are many medical, financial, emotional and social benefits to receiving an early Alzheimer’s diagnosis – both for those living with the disease and their families. These include the following:
• Accurate diagnosis – Can help determine if someone’s cognitive changes are truly due to Alzheimer’s or some other, perhaps even treatable, condition.
• Medical benefits – Allows individuals to explore medications for memory loss, sleep changes and behavior changes resulting from the disease, as well as to adopt lifestyle changes that may help preserve their existing cognitive function for as long as possible, such as controlling one’s blood pressure, smoking cessation and exercise.
• Participation in clinical trials – Enables individuals to enroll in clinical trials that advance research and may provide medical benefits.
• Planning for the future – Allows individuals more time to plan for the future while they are cognitively able to make legal, financial and end-of-life decisions.
• Emotional and social benefits – Provides individuals with the best opportunity to spend time doing meaningful activities and interacting with the most important people in their lives. It can also open doors to many educational and support programs.
About Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month
June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, a time dedicated to increasing public awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, available resources and how you can get involved to support the cause. Visit alz.org to learn more about Alzheimer’s, its warning signs, the importance of early detection and diagnosis, as well as information on care and support.