National Health Observances

Stages of Alzheimer’s

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease worsen over time, although the rate at which the disease progresses varies. On average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives four to eight years after diagnosis, but can live as long as 20 years, depending on other factors.

Changes in the brain related to Alzheimer’s begin years before any signs of the disease. This time period, which can last for years, is referred to as preclinical Alzheimer’s disease.

The stages below provide an overall idea of how abilities change once symptoms appear and should only be used as a general guide. (Dementia is a general term to describe the symptoms of mental decline that accompany Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases.) The stages are separated into three categories: mild Alzheimer’s disease, moderate Alzheimer’s disease and severe Alzheimer’s disease. Be aware that it may be difficult to place a person with Alzheimer’s in a specific stage as stages may overlap.

Mild Alzheimer’s disease (early stage)

In the early stage of Alzheimer’s, a person may function independently. He or she may still drive, work and be part of social activities. Despite this, the person may feel as if he or she is having memory lapses, such as forgetting familiar words or the location of everyday objects.

Friends, family or others close to the individual begin to notice difficulties. During a detailed medical interview, doctors may be able to detect problems in memory or concentration. Common difficulties include:

  • Problems coming up with the right word or name
  • Trouble remembering names when introduced to new people
  • Challenges performing tasks in social or work settings.
  • Forgetting material that one has just read
  • Losing or misplacing a valuable object
  • Increasing trouble with planning or organizing

Moderate Alzheimer’s disease (middle stage)

Moderate Alzheimer’s is typically the longest stage and can last for many years. As the disease progresses, the person with Alzheimer’s will require a greater level of care. During the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s, the dementia symptoms are more pronounced. A person may have greater difficulty performing tasks, such as paying bills, but they may still remember significant details about their life.

You may notice the person with Alzheimer’s confusing words, getting frustrated or angry, or acting in unexpected ways, such as refusing to bathe. Damage to nerve cells in the brain can make it difficult to express thoughts and perform routine tasks.

At this point, symptoms will be noticeable to others and may include:

  • Forgetfulness of events or about one’s own personal history
  • Feeling moody or withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations
  • Being unable to recall their own address or telephone number or the high school or college from which they graduated
  • Confusion about where they are or what day it is
  • The need for help choosing proper clothing for the season or the occasion
  • Trouble controlling bladder and bowels in some individuals
  • Changes in sleep patterns, such as sleeping during the day and becoming restless at night
  • An increased risk of wandering and becoming lost
  • Personality and behavioral changes, including suspiciousness and delusions or compulsive, repetitive behavior like hand-wringing or tissue shredding

Learn more: 10 Signs of Alzheimer’s DiseaseDiagnosisDiagnosed with Alzheimer’sTypes of Dementia, Daily CareBehaviors

Severe Alzheimer’s disease (late stage)

In the final stage of this disease, dementia symptoms are severe. Individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, to carry on a conversation and, eventually, to control movement. They may still say words or phrases, but communicating pain becomes difficult. As memory and cognitive skills continue to worsen, significant personality changes may take place and individuals need extensive help with daily activities. At this stage, individuals may:

  • Need round-the-clock assistance with daily activities and personal care
  • Lose awareness of recent experiences as well as of their surroundings
  • Experience changes in physical abilities, including the ability to walk, sit and, eventually, swallow
  • Have increasing difficulty communicating
  • Become vulnerable to infections, especially pneumonia

Source https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/stages


10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. There are 10 warning signs and symptoms. If you notice any of them, don’t ignore them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor.

1

Memory loss that disrupts daily life

One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information over and over, and increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.

 

2

Challenges in planning or solving problems

Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.

 

3

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

People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.

 

4

Confusion with time or place

People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.

 

5

Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Vision changes related to cataracts.

 

6

New problems with words in speaking or writing

People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

 

7

Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.

 

8

Decreased or poor judgment

People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Making a bad decision once in a while.

 

9

Withdrawal from work or social activities

A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They also may avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.

 

10

Changes in mood and personality

The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone

What’s a typical age-related change? 
Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

Source https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/10_signs


Myths of Alzheimers

Myth 1: Memory loss is a natural part of aging.

Reality: As people age, it’s normal to have occasional memory problems, such as forgetting the name of a person you’ve recently met. However, Alzheimer’s is more than occasional memory loss. It’s a disease that causes brain cells to malfunction and ultimately die. When this happens, an individual may forget the name of a longtime friend or what roads to take to return to a home they’ve lived in for decades.

It can be difficult to tell normal memory problems from memory problems that should be a cause for concern. The Alzheimer’s Association has developed information to help you tell the difference. If you or someone you know has memory problems or other problems with thinking and learning that concern you, contact a physician. Sometimes the problems are caused by medication side effects, vitamin deficiencies or other conditions and can be reversed with treatment. The memory and thinking problems may also be caused by another type of dementia.

Myth 2: Alzheimer’s disease is not fatal.

Reality: Alzheimer’s disease has no survivors. It destroys brain cells and causes memory changes, erratic behaviors and loss of body functions. It slowly and painfully takes away a person’s identity, ability to connect with others, think, eat, talk, walk and find his or her way home.

Myth 3: Only older people can get Alzheimer’s.

Reality: Alzheimer’s can strike people in their 30s, 40s and even 50s. This is called younger-onset Alzheimer’s (also referred to as early onset). It is estimated that there are more than 5 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. This includes the over 5 million people age 65 and older and 200,000 people younger than age 65 with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Myth 4: Drinking out of aluminum cans or cooking in aluminum pots and pans can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Reality: During the 1960s and 1970s, aluminum emerged as a possible suspect in Alzheimer’s. This suspicion led to concern about exposure to aluminum through everyday sources such as pots and pans, beverage cans, antacids and antiperspirants. Since then, studies have failed to confirm any role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s. Experts today focus on other areas of research, and few believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat.

Myth 5: Aspartame causes memory loss.

Reality: This artificial sweetener, marketed under such brand names as Nutrasweet® and Equal®, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in all foods and beverages in 1996. Since approval, concerns about aspartame’s health effects have been raised.

According to the FDA, as of May 2006, the agency had not been presented with any scientific evidence that would lead to change its conclusions on the safety of aspartame for most people. The agency says its conclusions are based on more than 100 laboratory and clinical studies. 

Myth 6: Flu shots increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Reality: A theory linking flu shots to a greatly increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease has been proposed by a U.S. doctor whose license was suspended by the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners. Several mainstream studies link flu shots and other vaccinations to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and overall better health.

Myth 7: Silver dental fillings increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Reality: According to the best available scientific evidence, there is no relationship between silver dental fillings and Alzheimer’s. The concern that there could be a link arose because “silver” fillings are made of an amalgam (mixture) that typically contains about 50 percent mercury, 35 percent silver and 15 percent tin. Mercury is a heavy metal that, in certain forms, is known to be toxic to the brain and other organs.

Many scientists consider the studies below compelling evidence that dental amalgam is not a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Public health agencies, including the FDA, the U.S. Public Health Service and the World Health Organization, endorse the continued use of amalgam as safe, strong, inexpensive material for dental restorations.

Myth 8: There are treatments available to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Reality: At this time, there is no treatment to cure, delay or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. FDA-approved drugs temporarily slow worsening of symptoms for about 6 to 12 months, on average, for about half of the individuals who take them.

Source https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers/myths


sportsman's legs sitting on the wooden floor with red sport plastic bottle, view from the top

Ways to Be Active

Ways to Be Active

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 30 minutes of physical activity a day for adults, 60 minutes for children, at least five days a week. Sound daunting? It’s much easier than you think, regardless of your current activity level. There are plenty of ways to get moving and some may even surprise you! It’s time to be active, get healthy, and have some fun!

Being active doesn’t require joining a gym. Look for ways to increase your heart rate during your daily routine. Walk or cycle instead of taking the car or bus, or you can choose the stairs over the escalator or elevator. Try these ways to be active and start working towards your fitness goals to jumpstart or maintain a healthy lifestyle.

There are many health benefits to being active for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, but you should consult your physician before starting a new activity program. If you haven’t been active in a while, start slowly and build up. Do what you can; some physical activity is better than none.

Different Types of Physical Activity

Aerobic activities can range from 60-85% of your maximum heart rate.

  • Aerobic activities make you breathe harder and your heart beat faster. Aerobic activities can be moderate or vigorous in their intensity levels, and range from 60-85% of your maximum heart rate. A general guide to use: For moderate activities you can talk, but you can’t sing. With vigorous activities, you can only say a few words without stopping to catch your breath.

 

  • Muscle-strengthening activities make your muscles stronger.

 

 

  • Bone-strengthening activities make your bones stronger and are especially important for children and adolescents, as well as older adults.

 

  • Balance and stretching activities enhance physical stability and flexibility, which reduce the risk of injuries.

Add Extra Steps to Your Day

  • Walk the dog with the whole family.
  • Instead of calling friends, take a walk together to catch up.
  • Park your car as far away as possible so you have to walk a longer distance from your destination. Even better, walk or cycle to run errands in your community.
  • Walk up and down the field while watching your child(ren) play sports.
  • Get off the bus or subway one stop early and walk the rest of the way.
  • Replace a coffee break with an outdoor walk—or take the coffee with you on your walk.
  • Walk the golf course instead of using a cart.
  • Choose the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.

Keep Moving at Home & In the Community

Keep a list of quick activities, like squats or stretches, near the remote so that you can be active during commercial breaks.

  • Wash the car.
  • Shovel snow, rake leaves, or do yard work.
  • Plant and care for a vegetable garden (then cook the vegetables for healthy meals).
  • Find your inner child—build a snowman or rake the leaves then jump in your piles.
  • Start your day with a morning stretch or end your day with calming yoga.
  • Sign up for dance lessons with a friend.
  • Experience the Great Outdoors and go for a hike or bike ride.
  • Grab a basketball or football for a quick pick-up game at a local park.
  • Join a community sports team or league, like soccer, rugby, or softball.
  • Participate in a local road race.
  • Go swimming at your local recreation center.

Staying Active for Individuals with Disabilities

  • Children and adults with disabilities can gain numerous mental and physical benefits from being physically active on a regular basis including: reduced risk of chronic and secondary conditions, improved self-esteem and greater social interaction.

 

  • Keep in mind that individuals with disabilities are just as capable and worthy of being active as someone without a disability and the activity does not have to be strenuous to provide positive benefits.

 

 

  • Look for opportunities to be active in inclusive programs that are already in place at your local community and recreation centers, health and fitness facilities, public agencies and park departments, or sports clubs.

 

  • Having fun while being active is the key! Find activities that you enjoy and include your friends and family in the action.

 

 

  • Track your progress and earn recognition for being physically active by starting to earn your PALA+!

 

  • Always consult your personal doctor before beginning any physical activity or exercise program.

Source https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/ways-to-be-active/index.html


Heat Related Illness

Know the signs of heat-related illness and the ways to respond to it:

  • HEAT CRAMPS
    • Signs: Muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms, or legs
    • Actions: Go to a cooler location. Remove excess clothing. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get medical help if cramps last more than an hour.
  • HEAT EXHAUSTION
    • Signs: Heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, or fainting
    • Actions: Go to an air-conditioned place and lie down. Loosen or remove clothing. Take a cool bath. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get medical help if symptoms get worse or last more than an hour.
  • HEAT STROKE
    • Signs: Extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees) taken orally; red, hot, and dry skin with no sweat; rapid, strong pulse; dizziness; confusion; or unconsciousness
    • Actions: Call 911 or get the person to a hospital immediately. Cool down with whatever methods are available until medical help arrives.

Source https://www.ready.gov/heat


Risks of Indoor Tanning

  • The United States Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization’s International Agency of Research on Cancer panel have declared ultraviolet radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, to be a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance).9        
    • Research indicates that UV light from the sun and tanning beds can both cause melanoma and increase the risk of a benign mole progressing to melanoma.
  • Indoor tanning equipment, which includes all artificial light sources, including beds, lamps, bulbs, booths, etc., emits UVA and UVB radiation. The amount of the radiation produced during indoor tanning is similar to that of the sun, and in some cases might be stronger.
  •  Evidence from multiple studies has shown that exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning devices is associated with an increased risk of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.
    • Researchers estimate that indoor tanning may cause upwards of 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year.
    • Higher melanoma rates among young females compared to young males may be due in part to widespread use of indoor tanning among females
  • Using indoor tanning beds before age 35 can increase your risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 59 percent; the risk increases with each use.
    • Women younger than 30 are six times more likely to develop melanoma if they tan indoors.
    • Research demonstrates that even people who do not burn after indoor tanning or sun exposure are at an increased risk of melanoma if they tan indoors.
  • Even one indoor tanning session can increase users’ risk of developing melanoma by 20 percent, squamous cell carcinoma by 67 percent and basal cell carcinoma by 29 percent.     
    • Indoor tanning before age 24 increases one’s risk of developing basal cell carcinoma by age 50.
  • The estimated cost of treating skin cancers attributable to indoor tanning is $343.1 million a year, leading to a total economic loss of $127.3 billion over the lifetime of those affected.
  • Studies have demonstrated that exposure to UV radiation during indoor tanning damages the DNA in the skin cells. Excessive exposure to UV radiation during indoor tanning can lead to premature skin aging, immune suppression, and eye damage, including cataracts and ocular melanoma. 
    • A recent investigation estimated that 3,234 injuries related to indoor tanning — including burns, loss of consciousness and eye injuries — were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments every year from 2003 to 2012.
  • In addition to the above-mentioned risks, frequent, intentional exposure to UV light may lead to tanning addiction.
    • Research indicates that more than one-fifth of Caucasian women age 18-30 exhibit indoor tanning dependence.          
  • Indoor tanning beds/lamps should be avoided and should not be used to obtain vitamin D because UV radiation from indoor tanning is a risk factor for skin cancer. Vitamin D can be obtained by eating a healthy diet and by taking oral supplements.

Source https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care


Detect Skin Cancer

Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of skin color. It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. When caught early, skin cancer is highly treatable.

You can detect skin cancer early by following dermatologists’ tips for checking your skin. You can download the AAD’s body mole map to document your self-examination.

If you notice a spot that is different from others, or that changes, itches or bleeds, you should make an appointment to see a dermatologist.

      1.    Examine your body front and back in the mirror, then look at the right and left sides with your arms raised.
      2.    Bend elbows and look carefully at forearms, underarms, and palms.
      3.    Look at the backs of your legs and feet, the spaces between your toes, and the soles of your feet.
      4.    Examine the back of your neck and scalp with a hand mirror. Part hair for a closer look.
      5.    Finally, check your back and buttocks with a hand mirror.

 

Source https://www.aad.org/public/spot-skin-cancer/learn-about-skin-cancer/detect


Reducing Risk of Stroke

You can help reduce your risk of stroke by making healthy lifestyle changes.

These are the most important steps you can take to lower your risk of stroke:

·         Keep your blood pressure in the normal range.

·         If you smoke, quit.

·         Keep your blood sugar (glucose) in the normal range.

·         If you have heart disease, treat it.

·         Keep your cholesterol levels in the normal range.

·         Stay at a healthy weight.

·         Get active.

·         Eat healthy.

Making these healthy changes can also help lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. 

 

Source https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/heart-health/reduce-your-risk-of-stroke


Acting F.A.S.T.

When someone is having a stroke, every minute counts. Just as putting out a fire quickly can stop it from spreading, treating a stroke quickly can reduce damage to the brain. If you learn how to recognize the telltale signs of a stroke, you can act quickly and save a life—maybe even your own.

Acting F.A.S.T. can help stroke patients get the treatments they desperately need. The stroke treatments that work best are available only if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within 3 hours of the first symptoms. Stroke patients may not be eligible for these if they don’t arrive at the hospital in time.

If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do the following simple test:

·        F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

·        A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

·        S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?

·        T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.

Note the time when any symptoms first appear. This information helps health care providers determine the best treatment for each person. Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room.

Source https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/signs_symptoms.htm


Stoke Signs, Symptoms, and Complications

The signs and symptoms of a stroke often develop quickly. However, they can develop over hours or even days.

The type of symptoms depends on the type of stroke and the area of the brain that’s affected. How long symptoms last and how severe they are vary among different people.

Signs and symptoms of a stroke may include:

·         Sudden weakness

·         Paralysis (an inability to move) or numbness of the face, arms, or legs, especially on one side of the body

·         Confusion

·         Trouble speaking or understanding speech

·         Trouble seeing in one or both eyes

·         Problems breathing

·         Dizziness, trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination, and unexplained falls

·         Loss of consciousness

·         Sudden and severe headache

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) has the same signs and symptoms as a stroke. However, TIA symptoms usually last less than 1–2 hours (although they may last up to 24 hours). A TIA may occur only once in a person’s lifetime or more often.

Stroke Complications

After you’ve had a stroke, you may develop other complications, such as:

·         Blood clots and muscle weakness. Being immobile (unable to move around) for a long time can raise your risk of developing blood clots in the deep veins of the legs. Being immobile also can lead to muscle weakness and decreased muscle flexibility.

·         Problems swallowing and pneumonia. If a stroke affects the muscles used for swallowing, you may have a hard time eating or drinking. You also may be at risk of inhaling food or drink into your lungs. If this happens, you may develop pneumonia.

·         Loss of bladder control. Some strokes affect the muscles used to urinate. You may need a urinary catheter (a tube placed into the bladder) until you can urinate on your own. Use of these catheters can lead to urinary tract infections. Loss of bowel control or constipation also may occur after a stroke.

 

Source https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/stroke