June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month: Know the 10 Signs

By Al Lawson

Special to the Outlook

Health and wellness are critical issues within our society. Sadly, we sometimes put self-care on the backburner, and ignore symptoms that require our attention. In Congress, my days are full, and my health may get ignored. One ailment that unfortunately gets overlooked in our community is Alzheimer’s Disease.

African-Americans are nearly two times more likely than white Americans to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias. However, they are only 34 percent more likely to have a diagnosis. When they are diagnosed, African Americans are typically diagnosed in the later stages of the disease, when they are more cognitively and physically impaired—and therefore in need of more medical care.

In Congress, I have worked alongside my colleagues to ensure fair and adequate access to health care for all, which would help those combating Alzheimer’s. As a member of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, we work to advance research and public awareness of Alzheimer’s disease through congressional briefings and other events. 

African-Americans continue to face health care disparities, which proves to be detrimental given the rise in cases of Alzheimer’s, among other diseases. 

This June, during Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, I join the Alzheimer’s Association® in raising awareness of this devastating disease. 

 It may be hard to know the difference between age-related changes and the first signs of Alzheimer’s. Some people may recognize changes in themselves before anyone else notices. Other times, friends and family will be the first to observe changes in memory, behavior or abilities. To help identify problems early, the Alzheimer’s Association has created a list of warning signs for Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Individuals may experience one or more of these in different degrees:

 1.         Memory loss that disrupts daily life.

2.         Challenges in planning or solving problems.

3.         Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.

4.         Confusion with time or place.

5.         Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.

6.         New problems with words in speaking or writing.

7.         Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.

8.         Decreased or poor judgment.

9.         Withdrawal from work or social activities.

10.       Changes in mood and personality.

 

If you or someone you care about is experiencing any of these signs, please see a doctor to find the cause. Early diagnosis gives you a chance to seek treatment and plan for your future. With this and access to preventative care, we can hope to witness the decline in destructive disease’s plaguing our community such as Alzheimer’s.