What: Like many diseases, Alzheimer’s can have a devastating impact on the lives of both the victim and loved ones. A diagnosis of the progressive disease can leave sufferers fearful, and their families struggling for care. As rates of Alzheimer’s continue to grow in the U.S., it’s vital to understand the disease and support research to prevent and treat it. This November, help spread awareness of the disease’s symptoms and treatment, while also supporting families affected by the disease during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.
Background: National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month is sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association and was first held in 1983. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by a progressive decline of brain function and is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. The disease destroys brain cells, causing memory loss and impaired physical functions. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease require considerable care, which can take an emotional and financial toll on families. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, though research is leading to better treatment and an understanding of what causes the disease and how to prevent it. Currently, about 5.4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, and the number continues to grow.
Story Pitch: Various organizations in the health care field have an opportunity to pitch around this event. Many Alzheimer’s disease patients require a caregiver, either at home or in an assisted living center, and companies specializing in palliative care may want to promote their services and educate families on the type of care from which Alzheimer’s sufferers benefit. Groups that work with aging populations, such as centers on aging, can raise awareness of Alzheimer’s symptoms, refer screenings and provide support for diagnosed patients and their families. While the causes of Alzheimer’s are not completely understood, health groups, hospitals and doctors have the opportunity to discuss current research and possible preventatives with patients. Alzheimer’s patients also face serious safety issues and can easily become lost. Local police departments and search-and-rescue organizations may want to inform residents how to report a missing patient.
Story Hook: Of the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S., Alzheimer’s is one of the least-understood and thus hardest to prevent. Research and awareness are critical to tackle the disease. What are current, promising research trials? How can someone sign up for a trial? What are myths about the causes of Alzheimer’s disease? Consider the following as you make your pitch:
- How well do current treatments and drugs work to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s?
- How much does Alzheimer’s care cost on average? What is the economic toll of the disease?
- What are normal cognitive changes associated with aging? How do they compare to the early signs of Alzheimer’s?
- Where can families, including spouses, of Alzheimer’s patients find support?
Tips: A doctor or researcher specializing in Alzheimer’s disease can discuss what we now understand about the disease and where research is currently focused. A caregiver is also a good person to speak on the care required for patients. Additionally, a family caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s may talk about how they cope with the disease.
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
Family Caregiver Alliance
–Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
Event Dates from CHASE’S Calendar of Events