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Alzheimer's disease: Sharing the experience

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One in 3 seniors die with dementia, more than breast and prostate cancers combined. More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer’s Association projects it will affect about 13 million of us by 2050. 

Each September, the SIU Medicine community recognizes World Alzheimer's Month. This is an ideal time to help people learn more about Alzheimer's disease and dispel some myths about dementia. 

Want to get involved and broaden your understanding of Alzheimer’s? Here are some ideas to get you inspired.  

Share your experiences with Alzheimer's disease

Having open and honest conversations about Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia can help prevent feelings of isolation and combat the stigma associated with chronic illness.

There are several ways to talk about your experiences:

  • Discuss it on social media and share information from other content creators or professional organizations 
  • Write a blog or start a column in a local newspaper
  • Have conversations with friends, family, coworkers and other community members
  • Host a "lunch and learn" or in-service at your work or in the local school or senior center
  • Participate in support groups for memory loss/dementia
  • Volunteer to be a community educator

Always keep your family's privacy in mind while discussing your experience with Alzheimer's disease. Also, remember that people who have Alzheimer's disease (as well as their loved ones) can have vastly different experiences from your own. Honor these differences and keep an open mind—by talking to others about their own unique experiences, you might come away with new strategies that can help you and your loved one! To find out more about other’s experiences, sign up to receive the Smith Alzheimer’s Center’s quarterly newsletter, Mind Matters.  

Volunteer or donate

Find out if there are any local or national organizations dedicated to Alzheimer's research and consider offering your resources to help. You can:

  • Offer to help fundraise 
  • Donate money on a one-time or recurring basis to an organization you like
  • Participate in or help organize local events, such as fun runs or walks
  • Research volunteer opportunities at a local hospital, nursing home or senior center

Seeing you get involved can help inspire your loved ones and peers to get involved, too. 

There are some simple ways to support the Smith Alzheimer’s Center programs with your time and resources here.

Learn about caregiver support and resources near you

Caregiving for someone with Alzheimer's can be rewarding yet stressful. To help you avoid burnout and other physical and emotional challenges associated with caregiver burden, don't be afraid to ask for help. 

  • Search online for support groups for caregivers of people with Alzheimer's disease.
  • Ask your health care provider or local hospital if there are peer groups in your area.
  • If you have friends and family who have offered help, don't be afraid to take them up on their offer! 
  • Engage in social activities, like our Beyond the Medical Center programs for those with dementia and their loved ones.

The Dale and Deborah Smith Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment at SIU Medicine is another unique community resource to get to know. We're pioneering research related to Alzheimer's disease and doing our part to help improve diagnosis and treatments for the thousands of people from our community affected by dementia.

Does someone you love have Alzheimer's? 

Alzheimer's disease touches millions of lives. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer's or another type of dementia, know that you're not alone. Learn more about our comprehensive Smith Alzheimer’s Center at SIU Medicine, find a doctor and explore clinical, research and volunteer opportunities or to schedule an appointment with a health care provider today. 

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