Last Saturday may have ended 2019’s Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, but for us to make any true impact, we need to continue our attention and support throughout the year. As we make the transition from the hype of this past month, into the Christmas rounds of giving and visiting your local care communities, we likely have a collection of lists, graphs, charts, and quotes all aimed at guiding and educating us about dementia. How do we take this information and implement it? How do we make sure that these lists and charts don’t remain on the page, but inform each interaction?
We may have donated to our favorite dementia organization on Giving Tuesday, others may be taking their classes, scout troops, and children to sing, decorate, or visit those living with dementia during the Christmas season. This is a start to the implementation of what we have learned, but it needs to continue, it needs to grow.
The charts set a foundation.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disorder, NOT a normal part of aging, with more than 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s. This number is projected to triple by 2016. No one should be afraid to speak about Alzheimer’s disease. (AFA, 866-232-8484)
The 10 Signs of Alzheimer’s include memory loss that disrupts daily life, challenges in planning or solving problems, difficulty completing familiar tasks, confusion with time or place, trouble understanding visual images and special relationships, new problems with words in speaking or writing, misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps, decreased or poor judgement, withdraw from social activities, changes I mood and personality. (Alzheimer’s Association, 800-272-3900)
What else can we do?
- Continue to learn and grow in knowledge and understanding. This can be done formally or informally. Find YouTube videos, a podcast, a book, someone living with dementia who puts out content to follow.
- Volunteer or consider a career in aging and dementia that fits the specific gifts you have been given.
- Begin a pen-pal friendship with an individual (living with dementia or a care partner) showing them your support, friendship, and let them know they are not forgotten.
- Continue to donate to organizations in your area.
- Become a Purple Angel Ambassador or consider helping bring awareness to dementia (and its many types) to your local businesses and community partners.
- Encourage your faith communities to form a ministry for care partners and those living with dementia.
What else can you think of to add to this list? What are you doing to continue the spirit of November’s Alzheimer’s Awareness month throughout the year?