older man with hands on face

Breaking the Stigma of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. In 2020, as many as 5.8 million Americans were living with the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many people have heard of Alzheimer’s, but it often comes attached to a stigma—so what is Alzheimer’s, really?

A Progressive Disease. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that impacts parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language. It often begins with mild memory loss and can eventually lead to loss of the ability to carry a conversation and respond to your surroundings, seriously affecting a person’s daily activities.

Still Being Understood. Alzheimer’s disease is not fully understood and there is likely not a single cause. Currently, age is the best-known risk for Alzheimer’s, and experts believe that family history and genetics may play a role in developing the disease.

Impacted by Lifestyle. Researchers are continuing to study the disease and some studies are looking at the potential impact of education, diet and environment in developing Alzheimer’s. Additionally, there is growing evidence that a healthy lifestyle may help reduce your risk.

Not Part of Aging. Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, and memory problems are typically one of the first warning signs. Someone with the disease may also experience memory loss that disrupts daily life, difficulty completing familiar tasks, decreased judgement and changes in personality or behavior, among others.

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Together, we can wipe away the stigma and improve the quality of life for those living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

If you suspect you or a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, it is best to see a health care provider who can help determine if the symptoms are related to Alzheimer’s or a different condition.

UTMB Health’s Department of Neurology offers the best in neurological care, including comprehensive evaluation, advanced diagnostics and treatment capabilities, consultation and management of diseases. To learn more or to find a specialist near you, visit www.utmbhealth.com/services/neurology.

Tips sourced from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention.