A discussion on World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

COLUMBIA,  SC (WOLO) — September is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

According to the South Carolina Alzheimer’s Association someone around the world is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about every three seconds. Six million Americans and about 95,000 South Carolinians live with the disease.

“What you realize is the person with Alzheimer’s is not just losing their memory, they’re losing cognitive function. Things like spatial reasoning. Things related to finding their words like aphasia. You can have more falls with someone with dementia,” says Taylor Wilson, Director of Government Affairs with the S.C. Alzheimer’s Association.

Wilson says be open to having a conversation if you notice a loved one has symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

“I always tell people that the best option is to talk to the person first. Just because someone has dementia does not mean that they’re not still in charge of their own autonomy; that they don’t still have opinions about how their care should be treated. And also there’s a lot more willingness to go to the doctor if a loved one comes to you and doesn’t just tell you to go. So it’s a conversation not an order. The other thing is to make sure you include their spouse or primary caregiver in that conversation because they may not be noticing the same changes you and I do, because they see them on a daily basis and they just acclimate to what their needs are,” Wilson says.

Wilson wants to remind caregivers that they are not alone in this experience.

“I think the first best practice is to get support. And I think that you can do that through our helpline which is 1-800-272-3900. It’s available 24/7. They speak over 200 languages. They’re available to help you get started because it feels very daunting,” says Wilson.

Research from the S.C. Alzheimer’s Association now suggests that a person’s brain can show warning signs of dementia up to 20 years before the person experiences any symptoms.

“What we’re really trying to work on is research around diagnosing without symptoms. And so that gets into blood biomarkers and pet imaging and different imaging options. So we’re very invested in that research and hopefully one day we’ll be able to stop dementia in its tracks before it even starts to cause issues of activities of daily living of someone who is effected,” says Wilson.

If you’re interested in helping with the fight against Alzheimer’s, the 2022 Walk to End Alzheimer’s will happen in Columbia the morning of October 8th.

Categories: Health, Local News, National News