June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. The annual campaign provides much needed educational and support resources to millions of seniors, impacted family members, and caregivers around the country. There are currently more than 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s Disease and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S annually. 

While there is no known cure, early detection is the best path for effective treatment and long-term quality of life. This highlights the importance of identifying warning signs and taking action as soon as possible. Common symptoms include:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty solving problems and completing simple tasks
  • Confusion about times and places
  • New speaking and writing issues 
  • Poor judgment 
  • Misplacing familiar objects

The normal aging process sometimes involves similar occurrences, making initial detection somewhat difficult. A doctor’s evaluation, however, would provide definitive results. According to the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Association, a skilled physician can diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease with more than 90 percent accuracy. Contact a senior loved one’s primary care doctor or an internist to make an appointment as soon as you suspect something may be wrong. Make sure follow-up appointments are conducted with a physician the senior adult feels comfortable with, as the prospect of a positive diagnosis can be understandably upsetting.

If the diagnosis is positive, consider exploring immediate treatment options for Alzheimer’s symptoms. Ask the senior adult’s evaluating physician about applying for clinical trials, access to cutting edge prescription drugs, and developing research materials. Begin planning for future health decisions, as well as living arrangements, transportation needs, and financial and legal matters. Acting in the early stages of the disease can allow your senior loved one to more competently express his or her desires.

It will also be important to establish a support system. Finding support for you and your senior family member is what Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month is all about. The Alzheimer’s Association is a leading participant in the annual June event. The organization offers a 24-hour helpline and a community resource finder for Alzheimer’s related services. It also operates an online Caregiver Center that helps Alzheimer’s patients and their families find care options.

If you or someone you know would like more information or guidance regarding health care decisions, estate planning, and other legal matters, our law firm is here to help. Contact us to schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum where we can discuss your questions and concerns.