Alzheimer’s disease is now America’s sixth–leading cause of death. The Alzheimer’s Association says the disease the only cause in the top 10 without a cure, a means of prevention, or any way to slow down its progression.
About 5.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. The week of Thanksgiving was set aside for dementia awareness in 1982 with National Alzheimer’s Awareness Week. The event was expanded the following year to cover all of November.
“This was designated by Ronald Reagan 30 years ago as a way to bring about awareness and education and information, and help people reach out and know that there’s support for them if they have Alzheimer’s,” Alzheimer’s Association U.P. region director Ruth Almen said.
With many families gathering around the table this week, Thanksgiving may be the first occasion many people have to see that a loved one is affected by the disease.
“They haven’t been around their loved one,” Almen said. “They’re actually with them. It may have been a period of time, and so, for many families, this is going to be a crucial time for them to come together and think about what it means now that Alzheimer’s is in their life.”
We’ll have more for you later this week about early signs of Alzheimer’s to look for, and about the support services that can be found in the Upper Peninsula.