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Club Chronicles: Observe National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. President Ronald Reagan designated this awareness month in 1983 to help raise general awareness of the disease and as a call to action to get people involved in both the recognition of the condition as well as the levels of care that might be required for someone living with Alzheimer’s.

At the time of the designation, there were fewer than 2 million people in America who had Alzheimer’s disease. Today, the number of people afflicted has reached nearly 5.7 million, and that number is expected to grow to as many as 16 million by 2050.

Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for nearly 80 percent of dementia cases.

The greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s is increasing age, but it can also affect people in their 30s or 40s. Approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.

Currently there are no known treatments or therapies that can stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Compassionate care and alternative therapies – art therapy, music therapy, horticulture therapy and more – can help manage and minimize symptoms. Exercise, proper nutrition and thoughtful mental stimulation are also important.

The chronic stress of watching a loved one slowly decline affects everyone. Family caregivers experience high rates of physical illness, social isolation, emotional distress and financial hardship.

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs have been dedicated both to ending Alzheimer’s and providing support to those whose loved ones suffer from it.

In Alabama Alzheimer’s was the AFWC President’s Project. State federated clubs raised $10,500 for the Alzheimer’s Research in Alabama. GFWC/AFWC Book Lovers Study Club supported this project through its fundraisers and personal donations.

Another project supported by clubs is the GFWC Partner Easterseals, which offers Adult Day Services that include programs for people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

Everyone can make a difference in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease by getting involved this month and help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s.

There is a wealth of information and resources about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Contact the Alzheimer’s Association at 1-800-272-3900 or check out the organization’s website.

Together, we can support the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.