Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

Thursday, June 8th, 2023

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At Pine Grove, we believe that education and research are integral to effective treatment. Our blog content includes messages from our staff members, discussion of new studies, and advice for those in every stage of recovery.

Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

Thursday, June 8th, 2023

Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

Alzheimer's disease

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, devoted to increasing public understanding of this progressive form of dementia and its effects. Worldwide, more than 55 million people live with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. These incurable diagnoses can trigger significant distress for patients and caretakers, sometimes leading families to make the heartbreaking decision to move their loved ones into nursing homes. However, specific treatments can prolong the lives of people diagnosed with dementia and help them be healthier and happier.

What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease?

The causes of Alzheimer’s disease include age-related brain changes combined with genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. Scientists have identified two proteins – amyloid and tau –that cause abnormal plaques and tangles in the brains of dementia patients. Alzheimer’s disrupts communication among neurons, resulting in loss of function and cell death.

Dementia also leads to brain atrophy, inflammation and vascular damage. While age is the most significant Alzheimer’s risk factor, many people live into their 90s and beyond without ever developing this condition. Conversely, there are rare cases of people having an early-onset, genetic form of the disease in their 40s and 50s. Research on Alzheimer’s is ongoing to determine why some people get dementia and others retain their cognitive abilities.

Alzheimer’s Warning Signs

Many people become more forgetful with age. However, pronounced memory loss and disorientation may signify that brain cells are failing as Alzheimer’s progresses. Eventually, people with Alzheimer’s lose their ability to make good decisions and live independently. They may also become paranoid, struggle with daily tasks and have difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.

Some conditions can mimic the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. For example, confusion, agitation and a lack of coordination can result from long-term substance abuse or combining alcohol with prescription medications. Similarly, the concentration, memory problems, sleep disruptions and loss of appetite associated with dementia can also be characteristics of depression and grief. If you worry about dementia for yourself or a loved one, see a qualified health provider.

In many cases, the ongoing decline of dementia co-occurs with mental and behavioral health disorders like anxiety, psychosis, depression and addiction. Chronic substance abuse can also lead to a higher risk of cognitive impairment such as alcoholic dementia, or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

Tailored Care Plans for Older Adults

At Pine Grove, we offer a specialized treatment program designed to meet older adults’ needs. Our multidisciplinary team of addiction specialists, psychiatrists, therapists, nurse practitioners and a dietitian helps clients recover from substance abuse and dual diagnoses. Based on a clinical assessment, you or a loved one can enroll in residential treatment or our step-down partial hospitalization program.

As part of Forrest General, a 512-bed hospital and Level II trauma center, Pine Grove also provides compassionate 24-hour health care for patients with medical issues. To learn more about our accreditations and verify your insurance coverage, reach out to us today.