Discussing memory concerns during Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month

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[June 10, 2019]  June is Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month®, and the Alzheimer's Association Illinois Chapter is encouraging families to talk about memory concerns sooner.

New findings from an Alzheimer's Association survey found a majority of Americans would be concerned about offending a family member (76 percent), or ruining their relationship (69 percent) if they were to approach that person about observed signs of Alzheimer's. More alarming, 38 percent said they would wait until a family member's Alzheimer's symptoms worsened before approaching them with concerns. Additionally, nearly 1 in 3 Americans (29 percent) would not say anything to a family member despite their concerns. To help people understand early symptoms of Alzheimer's or behaviors that merit discussion, the Alzheimer's Association offers the 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

The Alzheimer's Association also offers Six Tips for Approaching Alzheimer's, a list of best practices for talking about the disease with someone who may be experiencing these symptoms.

The six tips include:

  • Have the conversation as early as possible

  • Think about who's best suited to have the conversation

  • Practice conversation starters

  • Offer support and companionship

  • Anticipate gaps in self-awareness

  • Recognize the conversation may not go as planned

Understanding the Value of an Early Alzheimer's Diagnosis

There are many medical, financial, emotional and social benefits to receiving an early Alzheimer's diagnosis – both for those living with the disease and their families.

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These include:

Accurate diagnosis – Can help determine if someone's cognitive changes are truly due to Alzheimer's or some other, perhaps even treatable, condition.

Medical benefits – Allows individuals to explore medications for memory loss, sleep changes and behavior changes resulting from the disease, as well as to adopt lifestyle changes that may help preserve their existing cognitive function for as long as possible, such as controlling one's blood pressure, smoking cessation and exercise.

Participation in clinical trials – Enables individuals to enroll in clinical trials that advance research and may provide medical benefits.

Planning for the future – Allows individuals more time to plan for the future while they are cognitively able to make legal, financial and end-of-life decisions.

Emotional and social benefits – Provides individuals with the best opportunity to spend time doing meaningful activities and interacting with the most important people in their lives. It can also open doors to many educational and support programs.

[Elizabeth Cook]


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