You don’t have to wait until June (Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month) or September (World Alzheimer’s Month) to join the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, more than 50 million people worldwide are living with this form of dementia. The time to act is now. Carpe diem!
Here are three quick-and-easy ways to fight Alzheimer’s disease:
1. Purchase and circulate the Alzheimer’s stamp.After a 21-month hiatus, the United States Postal Service on Oct. 5, 2020, reissued the Alzheimer’s stamp. It costs 65 cents each. That’s 10 cents more than the typical first-class stamp because proceeds go to the National Institutes for Health, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Nowadays, many folks pay bills online and correspond via email and Facebook. So the need to stock up on stamps is less. That’s why I have decided to support the work of the NIH in the fight against Alzheimer’s by purchasing Alzheimer’s stamps for my holiday cards this year.
December is the one time of the year when I need lots of stamps. So, I’ll forgo the traditional holiday wreath stamp and instead leverage my purchase to fight a disease that is the third leading cause of death among U.S. elderly, behind heart disease and cancer. I hope you will too!
You can purchase Alzheimer’s stamps today at your local post office branch or online at usps.com/shop.
2. Donate to an Alzheimer’s center near you.
When far-flung family and friends receive my Christmas card this year with the Alzheimer’s stamp affixed, I hope they’ll consider a year-end donation to a local Alzheimer’s center.
Because of Covid-19, respite care centers for our Alzheimer’s elders have suspended in-person programs. This means fees and tuition paid for these adult day care services have been suspended as well.
Additionally, large annual fundraisers have been canceled or postponed, putting the survival of these community centers at risk.
While some centers have successfully applied for and received loans from the Small Business Administration, this funding is short-term and limited.
An online search for “Alzheimer’s day care center near me” will reveal potential candidates for your donation. Or, in the absence of a community center near you, please consider donating to The Ark in my hometown.
3. Get screened – take the Alzheimer’s test.If you are 65 or older, ask your primary care doctor about getting screened for Alzheimer’s. There is a simple test the doctor can conduct on the spot that will provide a benchmark regarding your brain health.
The test involves you repeating a series of words back to the doctor after a 10-minute time lapse. Additionally, the doctor will give you a blank piece of paper and a pencil and ask you to draw a clock face with a designed time.
This may seem elementary and like a waste of time. But it is good to pass the test before you fail the test. By the time my Dad failed the test at age 70, he had progressed well into early-stage Alzheimer’s.
If he had been getting an annual physical that included an Alzheimer’s test, I wonder how much earlier he could have been diagnosed and started treatment. Early diagnosis could have improved his quality of life and lengthened it, too.
I strongly believe that it is important for primary care physicians to administer this test, beginning at age 65, because some seniors – including my Dad – hide their memory issues and cope with Alzheimer’s long before loved ones realize what’s going on.
Early diagnosis can spare families a lot of frustration and regrets. It can provide an opportunity to discuss the diagnosis with your loved one and make a plan. My Dad was so angry at me for taking him to the doctor and getting him tested that we never were able to discuss the diagnosis. We just learned to live with and navigate through the new reality without ever naming it.
If you are not yet 65, reach out to a loved one who is and help them get screened. Together we can fight Alzheimer’s!