Alzheimer’s Disease: Facts, Figures & Resources
Unfortunately, Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are becoming increasingly common. In fact, 5.7 million American’s are currently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Tennessee ranks 4th in the country for the highest percentage increase since 1999. Incidence rates in TN were higher among women compared to men and higher among non-Hispanic whites. Rural areas in TN also saw the highest percentage in rate increases compared to metro areas (click HERE to read the most recent CDC report).
Receiving a diagnosis of dementia can be quite devastating, as the disease can impact families across physical, mental, social and economical measures. The good news is that you and your loved ones are not alone, and there are many recommendations already in place. If your aging loved one has recently been diagnosed with dementia, it’s important to educate yourself. Click HERE for a tutorial on the basics of Alzheimer’s disease including stages, risk factors, and more.
I’ve been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Now what?
Allow whatever emotions arise and find a safe place to express sadness, anger, loss and frustration.
Contact your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. It has a wealth of free brochures and insightful information for both patients and families/caregivers.
Do your best to try to create a daily schedule of activities and stick with it. Structured and pleasant activities can often reduce agitation and improve mood.
This is a good time to begin organizing money and legal matters as well as living arrangements. Have an open discussion about designating power of attorney (POA) for medical and financial decisions.
Ensure safety. While it is important that individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease maintain their autonomy, safety should be a priority. Examples include monitoring medication usage, limiting access to stovetops or machinery, installing safety locks, and obtaining a driving evaluation to assess for safety on the road.
Empower yourself and make lifestyle modifications! Research continues to show that what’s good for the heart is good for the brain.
Maintain a healthy diet. The Mediterranean diet (more HERE) has demonstrated benefit for brain health.
Get active. Exercise eliminates stress, decreases cardiovascular risk factors, and has protective effects on cognition. Join your local Silver Sneakers group or find a walking, tai chi, or swim aerobics buddy. A standard rule should be 20-30 minutes of light to moderate exercise per day.
Be social. Close relationships and large social networks have a positive impact on memory and cognitive function as we age.
Keep your mind sharp. Build furniture, start gardening, complete a puzzle or play boardgames. Challenging your brain keeps it active and resilient.
My relative has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. What does this mean for me?