January is a busy time for the Alzheimer’s Association. They receive an increased number of calls from concerned family members who noticed a change in a loved one during holiday visits. For some families, the holidays are the only time they see elderly relatives. Those visits can be a challenge for children, grandchildren and other family members who see personality changes in their loved one.
The Alzheimer’s Association’s Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter estimates that over 9,000 people in Stanislaus County will have Alzheimer’s disease by 2015. Numbers are even higher in San Joaquin County, which is expected to have 11,800 Alzheimer’s sufferers three years from now. Many of those adults with Alzheimer’s disease will be residents of Oakdale, Riverbank and Escalon. The Alzheimer’s Association has advice for families who know, or might suspect, that their loved one has Alzheimer’s disease.
“It’s important to seek guidance and support as soon as possible if you notice cognitive changes that disrupt daily life in yourself or someone else,” said Elizabeth Edgerly, chief program officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter. “Early detection of Alzheimer’s disease gives people with Alzheimer’s the opportunity to plan for their future and take advantage of the resources that are currently available to them.”
Alzheimer’s disease mostly affects adults age 65 or older. Younger adults are also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but at much lower rates. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.
Family members might notice certain signs of Alzheimer’s before others. The most noticeable symptom of Alzheimer’s is memory loss that disrupts daily life. This could be confusion with time or place, misplacing things or losing the ability to retrace steps, trouble finding the right words or calling things by the wrong name. Occasional or mild trouble in those areas could be normal, but consistent or severe memory trouble could be a symptom of Alzheimer’s.
Changes in mood or personality, decreased or poor judgment, trouble with problem solving and planning could also be symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Family or friends who notice any of these symptoms are urged by the Alzheimer’s Association to consult a doctor immediately. The Alzheimer’s Association can also answer questions on its 24 hour helpline 1-800-272-3900.
There are help and support groups in the area for anyone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or caring for an adult with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s Affiliate of Stanislaus County offers a support group on the third Tuesday of the moth, at 9:30 a.m. at 2545 Sylvan Road in Modesto. The contact number for that support group is 209-521-1606.
For more information about Alzheimer’s disease, community fundraising efforts, or the signs of Alzheimer’s, visit alz.org/norcal.