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  • Writer's pictureArwen Rasmussen

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness and National Family Caregiver Month

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness and National Family Caregiver month. The two are undeniable connected. The majority of individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementias have one or more family caregivers during the course of the disease. It is necessary to raise awareness as an estimated 110,000 people in have been diagnosed in Wisconsin alone. That number is only expected to grow as the population ages.

Alzheimer’s is often incorrectly seen as a normal part of aging. Though there is no known cure at this time, the disease can be treated increasing the overall quality of life. Living with a memory or cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s or other dementia can be a journey of worry, frustration and fear of the future. However, with planning and support, you can live each day to its fullest.

Helpful tips for planning and support:

• Get a diagnosis based on a thorough memory evaluation as early as possible. At the first signs of memory difficulties, talk to your doctor about your concerns. You may also want to consult a geriatric specialist or memory assessment clinic to get a thorough cognitive evaluation. A thorough evaluation is important so you understand the course of the illness and appropriate treatment options.

• Educate yourself and others. Learning about your diagnosis and how to maintain your abilities and manage symptoms can help you make informed decisions, prepare for the future, and enhance your quality of life.

• Stay active and involved in daily life. Continue your usual routine as much as possible and stay involved with your interests, friends, and community. If you make adaptations to accommodate your changing needs and to provide a safe and supportive environment, you should be able to continue your favorite activities.

• Get support and use available resources. Trying to deal with cognitive changes all by yourself can be exhausting and could have a negative impact on your health and well-being. The support of family and friends and your involvement with outside resources can be an enormous help. Ask for and accept help from friends, family, neighbors, and your faith community. Use community services such as in-home care, adult day services, and financial assistance.

• Take care of yourself and find ways to enjoy each day. Maintaining your health and well-being may improve your ability to function. Stay physically active and find ways to manage your stress. Try to focus on what you are doing well. Include fun, laughter and opportunities to learn new things and socialize with others each day.

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