Memory loss that disrupts daily life is not considered a normal part of aging—an important fact Alzheimer’s advocates point out that may be one of the first signs of dementia. However, most people struggle with acknowledging there may be a problem.
As defined by the National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 65 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease and is America’s sixth leading cause of death.
During Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month this June, the group,
in a recent press release brings attention to “the conversation no family wants to have—talking to a loved one about memory loss or cognitive decline. Close family members are typically the first to notice memory issues or cognitive problems, but they are often hesitant to say something–even when they know something is wrong.”
A new survey released by the Alzheimer’s Association reveals that nearly nine in 10 Americans say they would want others to tell them if they were showing signs of memory loss or thinking problems, but nearly three in four Americans say talking to a close family member about it would be challenging for them.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s and dementia, however early detection matters. The association has started a national campaign in partnership with the Ad Council that aims to discuss cognitive concerns sooner and is designed to help encourage earlier conversations.
Dad forgets the route coming home from the grocery store. Mom can’t seem to keep the checkbook balanced. A loved one stops in the middle of a conversation, at a loss for words. These are all common and alarming symptoms. The hope is that as other people discuss such stories and report how they watched the disease progression occur, further awareness will emerge and with it earlier detection, allowing for proper planning.
“Discussing Alzheimer’s is challenging for families and this campaign tackles the issue directly,” said Michael Carson, Chief Marketing Officer, Alzheimer’s Association in a press release. “Initiating conversations sooner can enable early diagnosis, which offers many important benefits, including allowing more time for critical care planning, better disease management and providing diagnosed individuals a voice in their future care. The ad campaign is designed to encourage and empower people to have productive conversations before a crisis occurs.”
Alzheimer’s disease typically progresses in three stages; early, middle and late. The National Institute on Aging indicates that while the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s vary from person to person, “for many, decline in non-memory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may signal the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.