Your Health: Alzheimer's Awareness Month
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It's one of the biggest threats to our country's aging population. Currently more than 5 milliion Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease.
September is World Alzheimer's Awareness Month. While those diagnosed with Alzheimer's face a debilitating disease stripping away memory and cognitive function, family members of those diagnosed face an equally debilitating situation: watching the person they love struggle with this deadly illness.
"It just starts with some basic forgetfulness, and then it starts to advance to where they don't recognize a can of soup," Caregiver Will Kesling says.
His mother Randy was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. For several years, Kesling has struggled to balance full and part-time jobs with full-time care of his mom as her symptoms progress.
"The impact is huge, and especially when we look at moderate to severe alzheimer's," says Dr. Suryadevara, a UF Health Geriatric Psychiatrist, "the patient is your caregiver, not the patient himself of herself."
Caregiver is a physically and emotionally exhausting role, and for support Kesling brings his mother to Al'z Place, an elder care facility for Alzheimer's patients.
"It's important for the patient to eat healthy, exercise - physical as well as cognitive exercise," says Suryadevara.
Research has found ways to help mitigate symptoms, but there's still no cure. Alzheimer's will affect an estimated 7 million people by 2025.
Kesling says he hopes his story will encourage others to support research and services in their community.
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