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Letter to the editor

Learn more about Alzheimer's

POSTED: September 16, 2012 8:00 a.m.

It seems a lot of causes have a particular month marked to raise awareness.  Sometimes people pay attention, and sometimes the months significance gets lost in the daily shuffle. September is World Alzheimer's Awareness Month, and I want to make sure that we all take time to pay attention to this epidemic. After all, 1 in 3 families in the United States is affected by Alzheimer's.

I work side by side with a lot of families living with Alzheimer's and dementia. I see the challenges they face, the pain they feel, and the victories they celebrate. One thing I have noticed is that the essence of who they are remains intact. Their ability to have a conversation is altered, but their warmth, wonderful characteristics, and true spirit continue to shine through. The lifetime of success they have experienced and their accomplishments are never taken away.

The longer I work with these families, the more I see the importance of helping them access the care and resources they need as soon as possible. Some people dismiss dementia, and they think memory loss is simply part of the normal aging process.

Yes, we all can be a little more forgetful as we age. That being said, it is crucial to watch for the warning signs and know the indicators.

The Alzheimer's Association provides a comprehensive list of 10 Warning Signs that includes memory loss that disrupts daily life, challenges in solving problems, difficulty in completing tasks at home, confusion with time or place, trouble understanding spatial relationships, difficulty following along in a conversation, withdrawal from work and social activities and changes in personality.

During this World Alzheimer's Month, I would encourage everyone to start talking about dementia. Research it, learn about it, and support families living with it. An easy way to do this is by joining the worldwide movement to wear purple on Sept. 21 in honor of Alzheimer's Action Day. Let people around you know that you care, that you understand, and that you too want to help families living with Alzheimer's and dementia.

Holly Tenner



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