New Alzheimer’s Campaign Encourages Families to Discuss Cognitive Problems Sooner, Enabling Early Diagnosis

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New survey reveals nearly 3 in 4 Americans say that talking to a close family member about cognitive problems would be challenging

TOLEDO, OH. – It’s a conversation no family wants to have – talking to a loved one about memory loss or cognitive decline.

The signs are there. Your loved one gets confused about time, dates and places. They get lost driving home. Simple tasks or family names escape them.

A new survey by the Alzheimer’s Association reveals that nearly 9 in 10 Americans experiencing memory loss, thinking problems or other symptoms of cognitive decline would want others to tell them and share their concerns. However, nearly 75 percent -or three out of four Americans – say that talking to a close family member about memory loss, thinking problems, or other signs of cognitive problems would be challenging for them.

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month and the Alzheimer’s Association and the Northwest Ohio Chapter is urging families to have a conversation with their loved one if you notice memory issues. A delay in the conversation could delay and even prevent early diagnosis and optimal management of disease-related challenges.

“We know that earlier diagnosis leads to opportunities to improve quality of life for the individual with dementia, as well as the team of loved ones who make up that individual’s caregivers,” according to Julia Pechlivanos, Executive Director of the Northwest Ohio Chapter.

Every 65 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease.  It is America’s sixth leading cause of death, affecting more than 5 million Americans and 16 million caregivers. Despite Alzheimer’s growing impact, many families struggle with discussing the issue.

The Alzheimer’s Association suggests three simple steps to help families have the conversation with a loved one they are concerned about. They are assess changes; begin a conversation; and lastly contact the Alzheimer’s Association for help.

Pamela Myers, Northwest Ohio Alzheimer’s program director, said, “It’s really important to talk about your concerns as soon as possible – be proactive in your approach. We often see in working with our families that it takes multiple conversations to talk about changes the family is seeing in memory and/or behavior. Most important don’t give up and call us for help.

The Association’s 24/7 Helpline, at 800.272.3900 is answered by a live person day and night. People can also go to the Association’s website at alz.org/nwohio for a plethora of information and resources. The Alzheimer’s Association Northwest Ohio Chapter serves 24 counties including Lucas, Hardin, Defiance, Allen and Wyandot.

About the Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s ®. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

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Here are some tips to help prepare you for a conversation with a loved one about signs of memory loss:

 Have the conversation as early as possible.

  • Think about who is best suited to initiate the conversation
  • Practice conversation starters – Be thoughtful in your approach, for example, consider an open-ended question such as “I’ve noticed a few changes in your behavior lately, and I wanted to see if you’ve noticed these changes as well?” “
  • If needed, have multiple conversations. Unless it’s a crisis situation, don’t force the conversation. Take a step back, regroup and revisit the subject in a week or two.

 

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