Every June, millions of people across the globe “go purple” as they band together in an effort to spread awareness, raise money, and raise hope in the effort to end Alzheimer’s and other brain and memory disorders.
Almost every person in the United States has been affected by Alzheimer’s in some capacity, whether they’ve watched a loved one experience it or they are going through it themselves.
With knowledge and dedication, you can be a part of a future that will officially end Alzheimer’s for good.
No matter your past or your knowledge, it is always worth the time to educate yourself and others on Alzheimer’s this June — you never know who you might help.
What is Alzheimer’s?
While many are familiar with the name, it is much rarer to find a person who knows exactly what Alzheimer’s is.
In fact, though scientists are aware of what Alzheimer’s is, they don’t even know exactly what causes it, which is why there is currently no cure.
Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects memory and other cognitive abilities.
It is caused by the death of brain cells, which build up plaques that can prevent the brain’s neurons from communicating with each other.
Tangles, made of a protein called tau, also develop and block this communication as well. It is these blocked connections that grow larger and entangle different parts of the brain, further inhibiting a person’s memory and cognitive functions.
Alzheimer’s can affect anyone at anytime. However, the people most widely affected by Alzheimer’s are elderly.
While Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, it is especially common in people over 65, with risk increasing incrementally each year with age.
Warning Signs and Treatment
While it is impossible to predict Alzheimer’s before it occurs, it is possible to pay close attention to potential warning signs, such as:
- worsened ability to pay attention to or remember new information
- trouble reasoning or making decisions
- declining understanding of safety risks
- impaired visual or spatial awareness
- impaired speaking, reading, writing, or comprehending
- mood changes, such as quick to agitation or lessening interest/motivation in doing things
Signs such as these may be an indication of Alzheimer’s or another neurological disorder. Consider speaking with your physician to get testing done and receive a diagnosis that may help you decide the next steps that need taking.
While Alzheimer’s currently doesn't have a cure, there are multiple options for people looking to curb their symptoms.
Certain medications help to slow the memory loss process, treat behavioral changes, or help patients sleep better through the night. Alternative treatments such as physical/psychological therapy may also be recommended, although there is no study to officially support their medical benefits with Alzheimer’s.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits with Alzheimer’s
For those with severe Alzheimer’s or those with Early Onset Alzheimer’s (before age 65), Social Security disability benefits may be able to provide assistance.
These disability benefits provide monthly funds to those whose disabilities (including Alzheimer’s) prevent them from working or living their normal lives.
In order to qualify, applicants must show the Social Security Administration (SSA) that their condition leaves them “totally and permanently disabled”.
According to the SSA’s Blue Book, this means that Alzheimer’s patients must exhibit a significant cognitive decline in one or more mental areas (ognitive, speech, motor function, etc.), as well as problems with understanding/applying information, managing oneself, or interacting with others. Clinicians have a variety of tests they can do to measure these functions, such as MRIs or CT scans of the brain, RFC tests, motor function tests, or cognitive function tests.
If you are unsure whether or not you may qualify here, you can also contact a local Social Security office for assistance.
Alzheimer’s affects almost 5 million Americans and countless other millions worldwide. In the fight against this disease, it is important to remember that you are never alone.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s largest organization dedicated to helping those affected by Alzheimer’s and the scientists working to cure the disorder.
Here, you can find support groups and others with stories like yours to help you through this difficult process.
If you are interested in applying for disability benefits, you can begin the application online at your earliest convenience. If you need assistance with your application or may be interested in official legal help, disability attorneys are a great resource to try.
Not only are they statistically proven to give you a better chance at benefits, but they provide free consultations and cannot take payment until you win your case.