“Raising your voice brings awareness. If you keep quiet, no one will know.”
More than 5 million cases per year. Decline in brain function. Chronic. There is no cure.
This is Alzheimer’s disease. When I first began researching the topic, these are just a few of the words/phrases that really got my attention. I continued reading about this disease, and it essentially just got worse, much like the disease itself.
Did you know? Over 5 million people are living with ALZ, and the numbers are expected to triple by 2050. Most people are not affected until age 65 or older, but some have been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in their 40s-50s. Of the 5 million people who have Alzheimer’s dementia, 81% are age 70 or older. According to the “2019 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures,” there are three stages: Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, MCI due to Alzheimer’s Disease, and Dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. Usually the patient will start with exhibiting minor memory deficits, such as forgetting simple things or being slightly confused. Eventually, the illness will progress to become a more aggressive form of dementia that will affect the patient’s ability to complete everyday cognitive and physical abilities, which could potentially lead to death. When a patient has been diagnosed with a more severe case of Alzheimer’s, caregivers are typically required to tend to them and ensure that daily living needs are still being met. This can be incredibly trying for the caregiver, as an individual with ALZ may exhibit moodiness/irritability, confusion, difficulty with communication skills, and even physical aggression in some instances.
How can you help? This year, things look a little bit differently than normal, being that the country is in the midst of a pandemic. There goes our opportunity to participate in social gatherings to support Alzheimer’s awareness, right? Sorry, but if that was your first thought, you’d be wrong. Thanks to advances in modern technology, like social media and smart phones, we are still very capable of speaking out for ALZ. If social distancing procedures have been lifted in your area, you may be able to host sports fundraisers if that is something you are interested in. Some communities host co-ed softball tournaments where all or majority of the proceeds are donated to the Alzheimer’s Association. If you’re like me, you probably have littles at home, and being out in the 100-degree heat does not sound very appealing. If that’s the case, you could make baked goods to sell and help raise money for the cause (this is a GREAT way to include your little ones also!) However, some places may not have completely lifted their social distancing procedures. Some people are still not very comfortable with being out and about in public unless it’s for necessary purposes. If that’s you, that’s okay! You can use social media outlets, such as Facebook, to raise money specifically for ALZ and reach everyone in your network.
Get on your favorite social media outlet, and #GOPURPLE to #ENDALZ. Whatever you choose to do, just choose to do something. Especially in times like today, the world could definitely use some encouragement and positivity and this is a great way to do both.
Chelsea Woods has a Master’s degree in special education and is an Educational Diagnostician. Her passion is children, particularly children with special needs. Chelsea has been married to her husband Dylan for 6 years, and they have two girls, Kamdyn, five, and Emersyn, one. She enjoys time with her church family, working in their garden, and taking vacations and making memories as a family.