The History Of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

 In Alzheimer's

November was designated National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. At that time, there were fewer than two million Americans diagnosed with the disease. Since 1983 the number has climbed to close to six million Americans being diagnosed.

Alzheimer’s Disease is caused by changes in the brain and impacts mental abilities and memory. As the mental capacity of the individual afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease diminishes, there are challenges for the sufferer and his or her family who typically take on the role of caregiver.

The History Of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

After gaining an understanding of how the disease impacts the sufferer and caregivers – who are usually family members — President Reagan determined it was important to raise awareness of the disease and start the discussion on how the disease impacts families. He noted the suffering of the families who watched their loved one slowly fading away from them.

There is no cure, but there are strides being made toward finding a way to slow the progression and to potentially cure the disease. Physicians consider the disease fatal.

alzheimers disease The importance of raising awareness

Caregivers have been educating themselves on the symptoms of the disease, so they are aware of changes in their aging loved ones’ cognitive abilities or state. There is no cure, but there have been strides made in improving the quality of life for those suffering with it. There are also steps we can take, as we age, to ward off the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

The stats

With the aging population increasing, the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease will increase. The disease is typically found in the elderly and the older a patient is, the greater the likelihood he or she will be diagnosed.

Statistics show one in nine people over the age of 65 have the disease – whether they have been officially diagnosed or not. It’s not the increase in age that increases the chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease, but it does appear to increase the odds of contracting it. Another fact to be aware of is it’s estimated more than a half a million Americans, under the age of 65, currently suffer Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

It’s also estimated a family caregiver will spend about $5,000 annually caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. In the early stages of the disease, it is usually the family who provides most of the care. When they take on this role, they are “spending” money, time and energy on their aging loved one – and for many – at the same time they are raising their own families and pursuing careers.

In 2015, it was found that close to 20 million Americans were acting as caregivers for a family member suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease; this includes close to 20 billion hours of unpaid medical care with close to 75 percent of those caregivers worried about their own health as they care for their aging loved ones and their families.

Caregivers, in many cases, feel unappreciated by the family member for whom they are caring because that individual is losing his or her cognitive abilities, but they continue to care for that person out of love and obligation.

Miles Zatkowsky, Rochester Elder Law attorney, is so committed to Alzheimer’s causes he  serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Alzheimer’s Association for the Rochester and Finger Lakes Area and his elder law firm participates in the annual Rochester Walk To End Alzheimer’s Event.

Because the Elder Law Attorneys at his firm work with an aging population, Miles said they understand and impress upon their clients the importance of thinking about health care decisions, including getting their “end of life” paperwork in order while they still have the mental capacity to do so. Elder Law Attorney Miles Zatkowsky and his team work with individuals to plan and decide on a plan for their changing medical needs, including  legal steps to make sure your medical wishes are carried out.

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