Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month 2018
The month of June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. The Alzheimer’s Association is promoting the need for families to discuss memory and cognitive challenges sooner so treatments can begin as soon as possible. Early diagnosis has many benefits, including medical treatments and effective lifestyle interventions. If a loved one is showing warning signs of Alzheimer’s or other cognitive distress, it is important for family members to encourage them to seek medical attention.
Another benefit of early detection of Alzheimer’s is having access to occupational therapy treatments throughout the stages of the disease. OT practitioners can help their patients and caregivers adapt the living environment, promote safety, engage in activities, and enhance their overall quality of life. Let’s review some of the ways an OT professional can help individuals with Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders.
- Observe home life and recommend ways to maximize independence through new routines or modification of existing life routines. OT’s can help caregivers implement and use different communication strategies.
- Create safety plans based on the individual’s needs and the caregiver’s capabilities. Identify dangerous items that can be removed from the environment and how to provide supervision during meal preparations and feeding.
- To prevent falls and other mobility injuries, an evaluation can be completed to recommend safety equipment in the bathroom or in other areas of the home. An OT can also help adapt other spaces to allow the individual to perform activities while seated.
- Help develop strategies to safely and effectively manage behaviors such as wandering, dressing inappropriately, or emotional outbursts.
- By targeting preventable or modifiable stressors, the individual can maintain independence longer or reduce the burden on caregivers.
- Maintain emotional connections with family members by implementing strategies to maximize photos and memory inducing items. Also creating enjoyable activities that can be done together that promotes feelings of accomplishment.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2018 Facts Survey, there are 5.5 million people aged 65 and older with Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to increase to more than 13.8 million by 2050. The survey also estimates that increasing early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s can result in a potential cost savings of $7.9 trillion in the United States.
If you are interested in playing a role in Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, there are a few simple things you can do. First, purple is the official color of Alzheimer’s Awareness so make sure you have purple clothes to wear throughout the month. On social media sites, use the hashtag #ENDALZ or #EndAlzheimers and share your reasons for raising Alzheimer’s Awareness. You can also sign up to become an advocate for fighting to end Alzheimer’s disease. Other ideas for participating can be found on the Alzheimer’s Association website here.
Thank you to the millions of caregivers, healthcare professionals, and researchers who are all playing a role in this battle against brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Please consider sharing your story in the comment section below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.