November is National Alzheimer's Awareness Month

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November is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month and National Caregiver Month.  The importance of this month and the need to further Alzheimer’s research and support patients and their caregivers has been punctuated by the recent death of Tom Magliozzi, a syndicated radio host, who died due to complications from Alzheimer’s.   Magliozzi was one half of the popular NPR show Car Talk and a beloved personality of fans across the country.  He was 77 years old.  

 

 

 

While most people only associate Alzheimer’s disease with memory loss, there are a long list of other complications that lead to physical decline and ultimately to death.  As Alzheimer’s progresses, patients often become immobile and have trouble fighting infections.  The majority of deaths can be attributed to aspiration pneumonia, which occurs when patients have a hard time swallowing and end up with food and other materials in their lungs.  

 

A significant number of patients also suffer from bed sores, which quickly lead to infections that patients simply aren’t strong enough to fight off.  The decrease in brain function and memory loss comprises only a small part of what makes this disease so devastating.

 

Part of the goal of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Caregiver Month is to spread awareness both about the disease and the burden that is being placed on families and loved ones who often take on the role of caregiver.  Children, spouses, and other relatives and friends find themselves trying to juggle full-time jobs, their own family lives, and the role of full-time caregiver.  A lack of resources and financial support for these families can create an overwhelming burden. 

 

If you would like to learn more and see what you can do to help, you can visit the Alzheimer’s Association website and connect with other people from all over the country.  Their website also has a long list of other events and fundraising opportunities that will allow you to contribute to the cause.  When you visit the site, be sure to take a moment to honor a loved one, like Tom Magliozzi, who has dealt with Alzheimer’s or pay tribute to a caregiver who has gone above and beyond.