IDAHO — September is World Alzheimer's Month, raising awareness and challenging the stigma around dementia.
The Alzheimer's Association is well-known for its commitment to driving research to create a world without Alzheimer's and all other forms of dementia.
"We are the world's largest health organization working towards that goal," says Adrean Cavener, Executive Director for the Greater Idaho chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.
While the organization works to accelerate global research and drive risk reduction and early detection, the Alzheimer's Association is also a great resource for caregivers.
"In the communities that we serve, we provide care and support for those that need us," explains Cavener. "We do that through community education, support groups, and direct care navigation. We also do advocacy on a state and federal level."
One of the first steps to finding support is by getting a diagnosis. Cavener says there are ten early signs and symptoms you shouldn't ignore.
"Usually it's the primary caregiver that first notices. You often hear this pre-diagnosis: 'I just knew something was off. They would never act this way before,'" says Cavener.
Some of the signs include memory loss that disrupts daily life, challenges in planning or solving problems, decreased or poor judgment, and especially changes in mood and personality.
Once your loved one receives a diagnosis, that's when the Alzheimer's Association can step in to help.
"You see your neurologist. There are medications and treatments out there that can control the symptoms. I think sometimes that people think once you get a diagnosis, all hope is lost, and that's not true," Cavener says.
The organization offers a Caregiver Resource Center where you'll be able to find resources around caregiving and ways to help those who have been diagnosed.
"We also have a Community Resource Finder. People can enroll in something called Trial Match so if people want help, they can enroll in a clinical trial in treatments," Cavener adds. "The best thing they can do is we have a 24/7 helpline."
The helpline connects callers with clinicians who help people navigate the process. You can reach them at 1-800-272-3900 or you can click here for more information.
Idaho News 6 is helping in the effort to achieve a world without Alzheimer's. You can join us during the Magic Valley Walk to End Alzheimer's on September 25 at the College of Southern Idaho. The Treasure Valley Walk is set for October 2 at Kleiner Park in Meridian.