For the Good Shepherd Community, each September doesn’t just represent the changing of the seasons and the transition to colder weather. Each September, Good Shepherd gathers a team together to participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. We are proud to partner with the Alzheimer’s Association, and we think it’s important that everyone knows a little bit more about the disease.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
The annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s is presented by the Alzheimer’s Association and is the world’s largest fundraiser for Alzheimer’s. Funds are used for research, care, and support for the disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a term that’s used frequently, but it is often misunderstood. What really is Alzheimer’s disease?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is degenerative brain disease. It is commonly confused with dementia, but dementia is the overall condition. Alzheimer’s is one of many types of dementia and it is the most common. Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms, including memory loss and cognitive decline. Memory, thinking, and behavior is affected by Alzheimer’s. As the disease progresses, it can have a severe impact on daily life. While some memory loss is normal as adults age, Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. In fact, while Alzheimer’s most often occurs in adults over 65, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that there are 200,000 cases of Alzheimer’s disease in Americans under 65.
Alzheimer’s disease is broken into three phases (mild, moderate, severe). Because it is a progressive disease, it worsens as time goes on as the tangles and plaques spread throughout the brain. With dementia, individuals lose memory gradually over a span of years. However, with Alzheimer’s, the disease progresses to the point where not only is memory loss severe, individuals with late-stage Alzheimer’s are no longer able to engage and respond to their surroundings. Once diagnosed, individuals have a prognosis of approximately four to eight years to live, although many people do not get diagnosed until later in the disease process. In the United States, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death.
Alzheimer’s affects the part of the brain that deals with learning. An early symptom of Alzheimer’s is failure to remember new information. As the disease progresses, individuals experience a range of symptoms, including confusion, mood changes, and disorientation. They may even become suspicious due to their confusion. Eventually, they may struggle to walk and talk. Individuals with Alzheimer’s may deny that they have a problem. A doctor can make a diagnosis based on medical history, brain imaging, diagnostic tests, and other exams.
Funding a Cure
Researchers believe Alzheimer’s is a result of several factors. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, but treatments are available. Currently, however, those treatments do not stop the progression of the disease, but rather can improve quality of living and can slow the symptoms of dementia. Research is aimed at preventing the disease from developing, stopping its progression, and finding better treatments. There are currently a number of clinical trials underway—including treatment trials, diagnostic studies, prevention trails, quality of life studies, and online studies..
Though the walk may look a little different this year due to social distancing, we are still proud to be part of it. Join our team on September 12, 2020. Walk in your neighborhoods and on sidewalks, tracks, or trails individually or with your family. While we walk separately, we are working together for a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementias.