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How Alzheimer’s Awareness Month Evolved

by Dee & Vanessa, November 12, 2019

According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, more than 50 million individuals worldwide suffer from the disease with the numbers growing each day. While the projected number of individuals affected could reach up to 130 million within the next 30 years, Alzheimer’s Disease has been a known condition since 1906.

As time progressed, the need for more research and awareness of the disease prompted President Ronald Reagan to designate November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. Upon declaring November the month to build awareness, Reagan touted the importance of understanding how the disease impacts families, as well as those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s Disease is defined as a condition that affects memory, communication and mental abilities due to changes in the brain. The Alzheimer’s Association supports that many patients struggle with maintaining cohesive thoughts, finding the words to express feelings and thoughts and difficulty with remembering names and describing common objects.

Over time, the disease progresses, which can lead to memory struggles, frustration and even anger as the patient’s life – and family members’ lives – are significantly impacted.

Why Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is Important

Since President Ronald Reagan declared November as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, significant progress has been made to find a cure. For instance, in 1984, the National Institute on Aging established a nationwide network for Alzheimer’s research and began to fund Alzheimer’s Disease Centers. This awareness and funding toward research led to the development of the first Alzheimer’s drug regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Cognex is a drug targeted at common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, such as memory loss and communication challenges. Since the development of Cognex, more than four more drugs have been approved by the FDA to treat symptoms of the disease.

President Reagan’s efforts in establishing Alzheimer’s Awareness Month came full circle when he was diagnosed with the disease himself in 1994. The awareness efforts led to the National Institute on Aging’s establishment of the National Alzheimer’s Disease Genetic Study in 2003.

By 2010, Alzheimer’s was designated as the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., ultimately leading President Barack Obama to sign the National Alzheimer’s Project Act in 2011 to further research efforts.

Awareness Brings Results

Nationally, Alzheimer’s Awareness Month has given legislators the push they need to advocate for funding for additional research. However, awareness has also led others to better understand how the disease affects patients and caregivers alike. The toll that the disease takes on family members and caregivers is hard to deny. And, the numbers continue to increase with close to 20 million Americans acting as caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients in 2015, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

As a result, support groups for caregivers have evolved, offering tips and advice on how to make life more comfortable for those affected by Alzheimer’s Disease. From in-person support groups to online message boards, communities offering support for family members and caregivers has continued to expand. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association offers a search tool to find resources in every locality.

Finding the Support and Care You Need

A physical illness or disease can affect individuals at any stage of life and age. In some cases, the symptoms may be mild, but many disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, can also be life-threatening.

This is why support and care are essential at the onset of any type of discomfort for your aging parent or loved one. And, a team effort ensures that you – or a loved one – will navigate chronic conditions in comfort.

It’s important to learn as much about the symptoms and care needed to help support your loved ones. Tap into resources from local and national organizations to boost your knowledge of how the disorder affects everyone involved and to also identify coping skills. In addition, lean on caregivers, such as the qualified staff from Care Indeed, to help with daily living, while coordinating palliative care.

Life with any type of illness is challenging and learning how to accept the challenge is the first step in living life. While you may struggle with grief and loss when coping with the symptoms as a patient, caregiver or family member, the support you need is only a click away.

Care Indeed is committed to providing you the support and in-home caregivers who understand your challenges and daily struggles at work and home. Learn more about how to get the support you need today.