15,000 North Dakotans over the age of 65 have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Tuesday is World Alzheimer’s Day, and the goal is to bring awareness to the chronic illness.
Alzheimer’s destroys memories, thinking skills and eventually leads to death.
The Alzheimer’s Association advocates for funds, research and provides care and support to people affected by the disease.
Audrey Williamson, the Regional Care Consultant in North Dakota, said many people don’t know the difference in memory disorders.
“They’ll say my loved one was diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s or I’m not sure what it is,” said Williamson.
Dementia refers to the group of symptoms that affect mental processes and Alzheimer’s is the cause of most of the cases.
A few warning signs of Alzheimer’s are misplacing things, changes in memory, confusion with times or places and changes in mood.
Alzheimer’s usually becomes more common in people over the age of 65, but it can even affect people in their 30s.
There is no official cause or cure, but Williamson says there are risk factors.
“Diabetes is a risk factor,” said Williamson. “Head injuries are a risk factor. Anything that– if we’re not heart-healthy, then we’re not going to be brain healthy. So really keeping your heart healthy, keeping your numbers down, your cholesterol numbers down.”
Edgewood Healthcare is a Midwestern company that offers services for the elderly, including independent and assisted living, home health visits and memory care.
Krissy Siebuhr, the Memory Care Manager at Edgewood, says it’s very common for caregivers to feel burnt out and overwhelmed, which is where places like theirs come in.
We provide a safe place for people with dementia to not just exist, but for them to thrive,” said Siebuhr.
Edgewood has doors that are locked from the inside and outside, which keeps residents who wander safe.
“Everybody needs a place where they can be safe and loved,” said Siebuhr.
Williamson says that the Alzheimer’s Association can be a resource even if there hasn’t been an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
“Even if somebody suspects that their loved one might have dementia, please reach out to us, we’re here to help with this journey,” said Williamson. “Like I said, it’s really it’s a tough disease and you really need a village to help you through this.”
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Minot is Saturday at Oak Park. Registration starts at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 10:20.
To register online, click here.