What do you know about Alzheimer's disease and the other dementias? Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month takes place in June. It's very likely that you've seen the awareness month's hashtag #ENDALZ in posts or people sharing their stories in social media posts.
If your dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, you've probably started to learn a lot, but it may still be new to you. Here are facts to learn about the disease.
Alzheimer's Is Not a Disease Only for the Elderly
One of the mistakes people make is thinking a parent's forgetfulness is not Alzheimer's. People may see a parent in their late-50s or early–60s forgetting things but feel that parent's too young. Early-onset Alzheimer's is more common than you might think. In fact, around 200,000 Americans have Early-onset Alzheimer's.
Four States Are Expected to See the Greatest Increase
Dataticians are continually looking at the increase in Alzheimer's disease. Based on current patterns, four states are likely to see 30%+ increases by 2025. Why this is happening is unknown, but the states on that list are Arizona (33.3%), Nevada (30.6%), Vermont (30.8%), and Wyoming (30%).
Alzheimer's is on the Rise
Alzheimer's in general is on the rise. Between 2000 and 2019, Alzheimer's as the cause of death saw a 145.2% increase. There may be more, but the cause of death listed on certificates may not be accurate. Usually, the disease impacts the brain badly enough that circumstances like pneumonia, kidney failure, or dehydration set in, and they're listed as the cause of death.
Almost Half a Person's Time With Alzheimer's Is in the Final Stages
A battle with Alzheimer's often lasts an average of eight years, but there are people who live with the disease for 20 years. Studies find that for those between the ages of 70 and 90, 40% of that battle is spent in the final stages of the disease.
Alzheimer's Caregivers Are Responsible for A Lot
As your dad's caregiver, you're going to take on a lot. You have to clean his house and do his laundry. You cook your dad's meals and clean the kitchen. You take him to appointments and schedule follow-up visits.
You pay the bills and enroll him in insurance plans each year. You help him with showering, toileting, and oral care. You cut your dad's nails, apply moisturizer, and make sure he's dressed appropriately.
He's going to reach a point where he tries to wander. You have to redirect him. When he's agitated, you have to redirect him. You have to remind him to take his medications. You need to make sure he's drinking enough water. If he has pets, you have to take care of them, too.
It's Okay to Admit You Need Help
One thing to remember is that you're not alone. Millions of families have experienced the battle with Alzheimer's and have tips to offer or are happy to just be the support person you need. Rely on Alzheimer's care aides to assist your dad while you take the breaks you need.
Use the time to attend support groups, focus on yourself, and take a break. An Alzheimer's caregiver is there to support your dad so that you have time for self-care. Make sure you use that essential service during your dad's progression.