November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is encouraging residents to engage in the observation by learning more about Alzheimer’s, spending time with family and friends who have the disease and finding other ways to show support.
“People who live with Alzheimer’s are just like everyone else. They need to feel daily support and love from the people closest to them,” said Eboni Whitehurst, DHEC’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Program Manager. “We strongly encourage the families and friends of people with Alzheimer’s to provide patient, calming care for their loved ones, and we urge others who come in contact with people suffering from Alzheimer’s to be helpful and supportive.”
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and most people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. It is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States, and those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others.
More than 6.2 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA). In South Carolina, more than 90,000 residents live with Alzheimer’s or some other type of dementia. The AFA lists several ways residents can show support for those suffering from Alzheimer’s, including:
- Wearing teal. It’s a calming color that can be comforting to those with mental ailments
- Using the AFA’s National Helpline (866-232-8484) if dementia care assistance is needed
- Donating to research efforts that are working to find a cure
DHEC has a key role in caring for many of these residents through our oversight of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. DHEC also has partnerships with the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Heart Association, Eat Smart Move More SC, and several other groups that work to better the lives of those living with Alzheimer’s. Additionally, DHEC has several resources available for those who want to learn more about Alzheimer’s, including:
- The “Take Brain Health to Heart” campaign, which provides suggestions, ideas, and other resources to keep your brain and heart healthy and active
- Our webpage on brain conditions, which includes mild cognitive impairment (MCI), dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease
For more information, visit DHEC’s main Alzheimer’s awareness page.