SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – More than 6 million Americans of all ages live with Alzheimer’s disease.
“There are upwards of 50 million people worldwide that have some form of dementia it’s believed,” Right at Home Savannah Director of Community Relations Neil Hunnicutt said. “There’s believed to be about 60 to 80 percent of those who have Alzheimer’s, so it’s quite a bit.”
Right at Home Savannah offers caregiving services to those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Hunnicutt said having the symptoms of Alzheimer’s is not a normal process of aging.
“Most people believe that as you age, you’re probably going to have Alzheimer’s disease or you’re going to have some form of dementia. That’s really not true,” Hunnicutt said.
Local health leaders are working to destigmatize the disease while educating individuals on the sickness.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s education can begin with children through intergenerational interaction.
“Bringing children around people, if it’s a family member, playing cards, talking to them, doing tasks that they can still do, talking about reading, building blocks, or doing things together with that person,” Hunnicut said, “it doesn’t just help the senior, it also helps the child so doing things together.
“It brings more awareness of what’s going on for the children, the children are more likely to interact even with their own families as they have more experience with them.”
Hunnicutt said people treat this disease as taboo from their lack of education.
“Sometimes people don’t even allow their children to interact with a family member that has dementia, Alzheimer’s because it’s embarrassing to them,” he explained. “Why is it embarrassing? Simply because most people don’t understand and they’re not educated.”
And while Alzheimer’s is not necessarily hereditary, a higher risk factor could be developed if someone within an immediate family is diagnosed with the disease.
“Say if my father has Alzheimer’s, there’s no guarantee that I will have Alzheimer’s, but it’s a higher risk factor,” said Hunnicutt. “If more than one family member has it even goes up even higher.”
Right at Home Savannah will host a walk on Sept. 25 in honor of World Alzheimer’s Day to raise money for research and education of the disease.
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