- The Alzheimer’s Association has launched an inventory of 6 issues they are saying individuals with the illness would really like individuals to know.
- Among them are that their illness doesn’t outline them and it’s OK to ask them how they’re doing.
- Experts say loneliness and social isolation can enhance the chance of creating dementia.
Rod Stephenson doesn’t hesitate to inform you he’s residing with delicate cognitive impairment, an early stage of reminiscence loss.
The 75-year-old Georgia man says the signs had been there earlier than he acquired an official prognosis in 2020.
Stephenson advised Healthline he had seen gaps in his reminiscence. For instance, he couldn’t keep in mind a summer season trip together with his youngsters and grandchildren.
Stephenson was considerably relieved to lastly study why he had these reminiscence gaps and determined he wasn’t going to cover his prognosis.
“Secrecy is the enemy,” he stated. “Negative things can happen when one is secretive about being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or [mild cognitive impairment,]” he advised Healthline.
“The first is that it separates you from folks, at least emotionally, and it makes you feel apart and alone. None of which has to be true” he defined.
“I’m wearing a T-shirt right now. I’m more than happy for folks to approach me with any questions they might have about how I’m doing, or what Alzheimer’s is all about,” he added.
June has been designated as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.
The Alzheimer’s Association is launching the month by revealing some insights from individuals residing with early-stage dementia. They discuss stigmas, misconceptions, and what they want others knew about them.
Stephenson’s factors about not holding issues secret fall in step with the affiliation’s “Six Things People Living with Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementia Want You to Know.”
Here’s a summary:
- My Alzheimer’s prognosis doesn’t outline me.
- If you wish to understand how I’m doing, simply ask me.
- Yes, youthful individuals can have dementia, too.
- Please don’t debate my prognosis. Don’t inform me I don’t appear like I’ve Alzheimer’s.
- Understand that typically my phrases and actions aren’t me, it’s my illness.
- Remember that an Alzheimer’s prognosis doesn’t imply that my life is over.
“I think this is a really positive thing. There are millions of people living with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia right now and many millions more are predicted,” stated Dr. Scott Kaiser, a geriatrician and director of Geriatric Cognitive Health for the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to raise awareness around Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia,” he advised Healthline.
Experts say the variety of individuals within the United States residing with Alzheimer’s is rising shortly. More than 6 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s. By 2050, that quantity is projected to rise to almost 13 million.
Between 12 and 18 p.c of individuals 60 or older live with delicate cognitive impairment.
Kaiser says there’s additionally numerous work to be performed to cut back the stigma round dementia.
“Some people go to great lengths to hide their diagnosis and not let people know they’re living with Alzheimer’s disease,” he stated. “Keeping it secret adds a lot of pressure that maybe doesn’t need to be there.”
A 2020 National Academies of Sciences-Engineering-Medicine study concluded that roughly 1 / 4 of Americans aged 65 or older who dwell in communities are socially remoted.
They typically dwell alone, have misplaced household and pals, and should have continual diseases and sensory impairment. That loneliness predisposes them to illness.
“Loneliness is a major risk factor for developing dementia. People who are chronically lonely are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease,” Kaiser stated. “And it turns out that not only is loneliness and social isolation a risk factor for developing dementia, but it appears to be more common among people who have dementia, and caregivers of people who have dementia.”
Kaiser says it turns into extra necessary for others to discover ways to successfully talk with and interact somebody who could be cognitively impaired. That helps to remove the stigma and is a extra embracing method.
Stephenson says there’s another excuse he isn’t secretive about his prognosis.
He needs to assist educate others who might discover themselves or somebody they know with the same prognosis.
“When you’re secretive, it removes you from the pool of folks who could possibly benefit from hearing about new medical developments,” he stated.
The former broadcaster and retired ordained pastor says he’s even busier now, working as an advocate and sharing what he’s discovered alongside his journey. He says one frustration is dropping what he calls his “excellent geographic sense.”
“If I had been someplace once I could go back there from anywhere without maps or directions because I knew where it was… Now that’s going away,” he stated. “I’m still very comfortable around town and so forth. But if we’re going to drive to Augusta or something… GPS is our friend.”
Stephenson just isn’t positive the place this journey will take him. There’s no GPS for that.
He says his mom had Alzheimer’s for the ultimate 20 years of her life. She lived to be 98. But it doesn’t imply that can be his path.
For now, Stephenson depends closely on his religion. He and his spouse, Deb, prayed that he could possibly be an instrument to share his story with these coming behind him. They say the work is empowering.
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” he defined. “Because of Alzheimer’s, I say we have developed a stronger pearl.”