My grandmother was a very hardheaded woman. She was notorious in my family for staunchly refusing to read the directions for the sprinkler system, VCR, and answering machine. She simply didn’t want to bother with directions.
For a woman who was very vocal and opinionated about everything, it was shocking to see her lose confidence in her ability to make decisions. We first noticed something was wrong when, at dinners out, she started to say, “I’ll have what you’re having,” because she couldn’t understand the menu.
Like many people with early stage Alzheimer’s, it was hard for her to admit that something was wrong.
For aging people and their families, there’s nothing more terrifying than the possibility of Alzheimer’s Disease. While it begins with simple forgetfulness and memory loss, advanced Alzheimer’s causes people to experience symptoms so severe that they barely resemble themselves.
As it progresses through the brain, Alzheimer’s displays increasingly acute symptoms, including severe disorientation, unfounded suspicions about loved ones, major personality changes, and even difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking. It is, ultimately, fatal.
Alzheimer’s is a huge and growing problem. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, researchers project that the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s will triple in the next 40 years, which means that 13.8 million of us will have it by 2050.
That’s 13.8 million people who will require treatment and specialized care, and who may not remember their family members. It’s also 13.8 million families who will need support during a very difficult time.
Though Alzheimer’s has no cure and is difficult to diagnose, there is hope: Due to the attention and funds put into Alzheimer’s research, scientists are learning more all the time—finding new possibilities for early diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
How You Can Help
It’s absolutely vital that we do as much as possible to help people with Alzheimer’s, to try to prevent a crisis in the coming years.
Support families and provide care
The Alzheimer’s Family Day Center in Northern Virginia offers support and respite for families, and helps people with Alzheimer’s stay healthy and active:
- $10- Provides a day of activity materials for participants.
- $50- Provides an Education Program for the community.
- $80 – Provides a participant with one day of service in the Adult Day Health Center.
Fund research efforts
You can find more organizations helping prevent Alzheimer’s disease in the JustGive Guide.
Walk for the Cause
The Alzheimer’s Association organizes walks to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. Join one in your area this Fall.
Raise More Money
Set up a charity registry on JustGive to get donations for the cause. Choose charities for your registry (Need inspiration? Start with the JustGive Guide), then share it with everyone you know. Ask them to spread the word, and make a difference for Alzheimer’s.
If you are fortunate enough to have no personal experience with this disease, put yourself in the shoes of someone who does: Imagine visiting a parent, only to have them not recognize you. Or imagine yourself, unable to remember your life.
Please get involved—by donating or helping raise awareness—to put an end to Alzheimer’s.
—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager