By Beth M. Sulkowski, Vice President of Communications & Advocacy, Alzheimer’s Association, South Carolina Chapter
In 1983, when November was designated as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, fewer than 2 million Americans had the disease. Today, the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s has soared to more than 5 million. An estimated 81,000 South Carolinians are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is expected to grow 48 percent to 120,000 people affected by 2025.
While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, early detection and diagnosis is critical to ensure that those living with Alzheimer’s have the power to plan their own health care and future. Those who receive an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can gain the best possible benefits from current medications, play an active role in decisions about treatment and care, and even participate in Alzheimer’s clinical trials of treatments being developed.
Many people think of Alzheimer’s disease as a normal part of aging, or simply memory loss. While age is the greatest known risk factor, the reality is that Alzheimer’s can strike as early as in a person’s 30s, 40s, or 50s. It also impacts far more than a person’s ability to remember names or recall where they left their keys.
The Alzheimer’s Association teaches warning signs to help people recognize when they might need to consult a doctor about changes in a loved one or in themselves.
10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or during leisure time
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
Individuals may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees, so if you recognize any of these signs, please talk to a doctor right away. For more information, please visit the national Alzheimer’s Association or the South Carolina Chapter’s webpage.