For many families, dementia and Alzheimer’s are an all-too-familiar pair of words. Often referred to as a ‘family disease’, Alzheimer’s Disease is particularly well known for its painful, stressful impact. Since 2012, September marks World Alzheimer’s Month – an international effort to raise awareness and address misinformation and social stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s and dementia. Here are five things you can do to help make a difference to those impacted by the disease.
Spend time with someone you love who is affected by the disease
Many families struggle with the pain of seeing loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s and/or dementia. Children and teenagers often find the situation particularly difficult and may be reluctant to spend time with an ailing family member. Lack of awareness leads the general public to believe that visiting someone with Alzheimer’s serves no purpose; however, those with Alzheimer’s can still retain emotional memory long after their ability to recognize loved ones fades away. Though they may not remember their relationships to visitors, they often do not forget the feelings associated with loved ones.
Volunteer within the larger community
There are many events and organizations dedicated to raising money and bringing awareness to the public so that we may one day find solutions to overcome Alzheimer’s Disease. Every one of these groups could always use a helping hand. It takes a lot of hard work to organize community events such as local charity events, runs or walks, or larger galas. Volunteering can also be an incredible way to discover new resources and meet like-minded individuals who may deal with experiences very similar to your own. It can be both rewarding and cathartic to witness to the power of individuals who come together to serve a common cause.
Offer to help a caregiver you know
Volunteering at the community level is a wonderful experience, but sometimes it’s nice to see first-hand how your help can have an impact on somebody in a more immediate fashion. Being the primary caregiver or point of contact with an individual impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease is often painful, as well as emotionally and physically exhausting; especially if said caregiver juggles other responsibilities, such as another job or children. If you know of somebody in such a position, offer to help out in small ways; such as babysitting their children, or even if they need somebody to help them take care of the individual every now and then. The smallest offers of kindness can really make a difference to somebody’s life; especially when their days are stretched thin.
World Alzheimer’s Month is the perfect opportunity for you to reach out to organizations. For example, the Alzheimer’s Association is only one group that can help you learn more about how you can use your voice as a form of advocacy in your community; or even on a national or international scale. By participating in larger organizations, you can help spread the importance of finding solutions to the Alzheimer’s crisis; even in smaller acts of preparing petitions, or attending conferences and summits.
While not for everybody, charitable giving is an excellent way to help the world overcome the Alzheimer’s crisis. You can contribute to research foundations, social organizations, support groups and more. Many organizations are dependent upon philanthropic donations; without them, individuals, families, and society at large would be under significant strains given the financial and social costs of Alzheimer’s Disease.
World Alzheimer’s month is your opportunity to recognize the amazing work being done around the world to help conquer this disease and to do a little something yourself to make a difference in somebody else’s life. Whether this means visiting a loved one, or making a charitable donation to an organization of your choice, any action leads to good. Reach out to the larger community to learn more about some of the great Alzheimer’s care initiatives that retirement communities do every day to improve the lives of impacted individuals, and how you can help to bring awareness to the world.