Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Learn About Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. It is a progressive brain disease that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Alzheimer’s disease develops from multiple risk factors, such as genetics, lifestyle and environment. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life.

Know the Signs

The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is difficulty remembering newly learned information. There are 10 warning signs to help identify symptoms that may be related to Alzheimer’s or another dementia. If you notice changes in friends, family or others close to you and are concerned for their health—particularly when it involves changes in memory, thinking or behavior—it can be difficult to know what to do or say. Although it’s natural to be uncertain or nervous about how to offer support, these are significant health concerns. Understanding the 10 Steps to Approach Memory Concerns can help you feel more confident as you assess the situation and take action.

Understanding your Risk

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, however there are steps you can take to help lower your risk. Learn about 10 ways to lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease below:

  1. Controlling high blood pressure
  2. Maintaining a healthy weight
  3. Quitting smoking
  4. Being physically active
  5. Eating healthy meals
  6. Getting enough sleep
  7. Avoiding alcohol or drinking alcohol in moderation
  8. Managing diabetes
  9. Managing Depression
  10. Managing Hearing Loss

Understanding modifiable risk factors can reduce or increase your chance for developing a disease. Modifiable risk factors for ADRD are mostly related to cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions to include hypertension, not getting enough physical exercise, obesity, diabetes, depression, smoking, hearing loss, and binge drinking. Managing chronic conditions and maintaining a healthy lifestyle may help reduce or decrease the risk of dementia.

Taking action can mean a big difference for your brain health!

Support Available

The Alzheimer’s Association offers resources to support those living with the disease, their loved ones and caregivers.

  • AlzConnected is a free, online community for everyone affected by Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
  • Alznavigator helps guide caregivers to answers supporting the development of personalized actions plans.
  • 24/7 Helpline (800-272-3900) is a free service where experts provide confidential support and information to anyone impacted by Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
  • Education Center offers several Alzheimer’s and dementia online education courses to learn about the disease

Get Involved

The Louisiana Alzheimer’s Coalition is comprised of Louisiana leaders committed to developing a coordinated public health approach to support those with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias and their caregivers.

In 2020, the Alzheimer’s Association estimated that there were 92,000 people aged 65 years or older living with Alzheimer’s Disease in Louisiana – the most common form of dementia. This number is expected to increase to 110,000 by 2025. The work of the state to address these challenges is guided by the 2023-2028 Louisiana ADRD State Plan. The plan lays out a path for addressing the special needs of our residents living with Alzheimer’s Disease, related dementias and their care partners, through a public health approach that is evidence-based, promotes risk reduction and early diagnosis and focuses on highly impacted populations (American Indian, Black and Hispanic populations). The plan includes actions that the state of Louisiana and its partners must take. These actions are divided into four domains:

  • Empowering and engaging the public
  • Developing policies and building partnerships
  • Assuring a competent workforce
  • Monitor and evaluation efforts
  • Learn more about the Coalition or join today!

Depression in Seniors

Healthcare providers may mistake an older adult’s symptoms of depression as just a natural reaction to illness or the life changes that may occur as we age, and therefore not see the depression as something to be treated. Older adults themselves often share this belief and do not seek help because they don’t understand that they could feel better with appropriate treatment.

About 80% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition and 50% have two or more. Depression is more common in people who also have other illnesses (such as heart disease or cancer), suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or whose function becomes limited. Depression is also very common among people with Alzheimer’s, but there is treatment available that can make a difference in quality of life.

According to the CDC, here are some signs to look for related to depression:

  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts