Among the many questions I typically field in the world of senior care, the confusion between Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia ranks at the top. Many times, we tend to use these words synonymously but they are not the same thing. Dementia is a general term used to describe a decline in memory that affects a person’s daily living. Dementia is an umbrella term with multiple diseases that fall under it. Alzheimer’s (pronunciation here) is one of these diseases and is the most common type of dementia.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s causes problems with memory, cognition, and behavior. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s usually develop slowly and become worse over time, eventually interfering with daily tasks of living. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases (alz.org).
Contrary to popular belief, dementia and memory loss is not a “normal” part of aging and not all memory loss is tied to dementia. If you or your loved one is experiencing memory issues, schedule an appointment with your physician for a screening. Many times, patients will put off seeing a physician about memory issues, fearing the worst possible scenario. But an evaluation from your physician may detect a treatable condition that is not related to dementia. Even if your symptoms suggest dementia, early diagnosis is key to benefit from available treatments.
A quick Google search will inundate you with resources and information about Alzheimer’s Disease, but here are a few good ones:
National Institute on Aging
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
Local Alzheimer’s Association Chapter
Locally in Alexander City, Russell Medical Center Auxiliary hosts a dementia support group each month for family and caregivers touched by dementia related illnesses. The Emily Gilbert Dementia Support Group meets the 2nd Monday of each month at RMC. Call 256-329-7177 for more information.
If you know of other great resources please comment below and share them with us!
Across the country over the next week many schools will celebrate National Grandparents Day with class programs, homemade gifts and maybe even a song or two celebrating the grandparents who touch the lives of young kids everywhere. National Grandparents Day is celebrated the first Sunday after Labor Day every year, and this year it falls on Sunday, September 10th, this coming Sunday.
When I think about the role my grandparents played in my own life, I am reminded of so many precious memories. From snapping green beans with my grandmother while my granddad yelled at the Saints playing on television, to visiting my Gammy in Virginia on the farm. Grandparents have always held an important role in my life; guiding, nurturing, and cheering me on. Today, I see the role my own parents and inlaws, play in my kid's lives. When grandparents come to visit, that unmistakable smile and big hug tells me just how much my kids love their grandparents. The bond between grandparent and child is so special and deserves to be celebrated! Although National Grandparents Day may not be as widely publicized as Mother's and Father's Day, its history is uniquely rooted in a love for the entire family unit.
National Grandparents Day was a grassroots effort by Marian Lucille Herdon McQuade who in 1970 began a campaign to honor grandparents on a specific day each year. In 1979 Congress passed the legislation with then-President Jimmy Carter signing it into effect. View the proclamation in its entirety here.
McQuade and her husband had 15 children, 43 grandchildren, and one great grandchild.
...I'd like to pause for a moment to let that sink in....15 children!!!
I can't keep up with the three I have, so 15 makes my head spin a little! With 15 children and 43 grandchildren the family dynamic was naturally an important part of McQuade's life.
She envisioned National Grandparents Day as a family centered holiday with the purpose of honoring grandparents, giving grandparents an opportunity to show love to their children’s children, and to help children become aware of the strength, wisdom, and guidance the older generations can provide. Fun little fact, initially there was a typo in the grammatical publicizing of Grandparents Day, leaving out apostrophe to show the possessive form of the word. But this oversight has served the holiday well as McQuade never intended for it to belong to just the grandparents. Instead, she saw it as a day to celebrate the whole family and the value all generations have in the family unit.
On a national level, this day allows us to affirm the identity and importance of grandparents and the important role they play in the family dynamic. McQuade’s efforts to advocate for older adults in the community far surpassed her achievement in creating National Grandparents Day though. Much of her life was spent advocating for older adults, including home bound individuals, both in leadership and politics.
In 1971 she was elected Vice Chair of the West Virginia Committee on Aging and was appointed as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging. In 1972, Mrs. McQuade's efforts resulted in President Richard Nixon proclaiming a National Shut-in Day. She served as President of the Vocational Rehabilitation Foundation, Vice-President of the West Virginia Health Systems Agency, and was appointed to the Nursing Home Licensing Board, among many other involvements.
So, this Sunday, take a moment to appreciate your grandparents whether living or deceased. Express your love and gratitude to them and let them know the value they hold to your family. Here are some simple yet meaningful ways to celebrate the day and make it special for the grandparent in your life: