September is Alzheimer’s Disease International’s World Alzheimer’s Month.
Alzheimer’s is a specific brain disease and a type of dementia. Dementia is a label for conditions
characterized by impairment of at least two brain functions, such as memory loss and judgment.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, they account for 60-80% of cases.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than six million people live with Alzheimer’s,
and more than 30% of seniors die with a form of dementia. It is most common in individuals
over the age of 85.
Symptoms of dementia include forgetfulness, limited social skills and thinking abilities. These
often become severe and interfere with daily life.
Elizabeth Fauth, a professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Utah State, gave a
TEDx Talk on the topic in 2015.
Fauth said depending on the severity of the disease, some people may become very aggressive, agitated, paranoid or worried.
“These behaviors become logical if you think like a person with dementia,” she said. “If you
didn’t know where you were, or who was in the room with you, you would probably also be very
worried and agitated.”
Alzheimer’s and dementia impact more than the patient, but also their friends, families and caregivers.
Fauth also touched on this during her TEDx Talk, and said that caring for someone with
dementia can be extremely difficult due to the difficult behaviors associated with the diagnosis.
In 2019, Fauth partnered with Marilyn Albertson, an associate professor of family and consumer
science with Utah State University Extension, to create a free online support course for
caregivers of those with dementia.
This course, known as ACT, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, is designed to help teach
caregivers techniques for managing tough situations associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
“There is often grief,” Fauth told KSL in 2019, “even though the person is still alive, because the
person’s abilities have declined from what he or she could remember and do before the disease.”
The online course is currently only available as a service for caregivers that are signed up for the
Retired Senior Volunteer Program, or RSVP, of Cache and Rich Counties.
RSVP also promotes events and volunteer opportunities to raise awareness. Information on RSVP for Cache and Rich counties is available at facebook.com/RSVPcacherich/.
Zach Crow, a senior at Utah State University, has a grandmother with dementia and can relate to
seeing how dementia can affect an entire family.
“It was devastating to watch someone I loved so much become less aware of who I was, until she
no longer remembered or was able to communicate with me,” he said. “My family was left with
a shell of the woman whom we loved, cared for, and respected.”
Crow said the worst part about it all is there is almost no way to treat or prevent it.
“One day the person you care about will start to develop this incurable disease that will slowly
take away bits and pieces of who they are,” Crow said. “If you know someone who has a loved
one struggling with dementia, just be there for them because it’s not easy.”
Getting involved and showing support for those impacted by Alzheimer’s and dementia can be as
simple as wearing a purple ribbon, donating or sharing a social media post with the hashtags #KnowDementia and #KnowAlzheimers
More information on World Alzheimer’s Month and getting involved is available on Alzheimer’s
Disease International’s website, alzint.org.
Read the original article here: https://usustatesman.com/what-is-dementia-and-how-does-it-relate-to-alzheimers/