Rosalynn Carter diagnosis raises awareness of dementia signs, symptoms

In Alabama, there are about 96,000 individuals over the age of 65 that are suffering from Alzheimer's.
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 7:03 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - There has been an outpouring of support this week after the Carter Center announced that former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has been diagnosed with dementia. It’s a condition that affects millions of Americans.

With the news of the former First Lady’s dementia diagnosis, light is being shined on a condition the World Health Organization says more than 55 million people worldwide are living with. Dementia can result from a variety of diseases and injuries that affect the brain.

“Dementia can be caused by vascular disease, multiple strokes, a head trauma, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is the most predominant cause of dementia,” said Burnestine Taylor, Alabama Department of Public Health Medical Officer for Disease Control and Prevention.

Signs and symptoms can vary but may include memory loss, confusion, difficulty speaking, repeating questions or taking longer to complete normal daily tasks.

“You know, a lot of us have problems, we lose our keys or we forget to lock the door. You progress from just short-term memory and infrequent, it gets more and more frequent, gets more and more severe. And then it starts to interfere with your daily life. If you can’t find your way home, you can’t remember to turn the stove off, it becomes more of a problem when it starts to interfere with your daily functioning,” said Taylor.

Taylor says if you suspect your loved one has dementia it is good to seek medical attention early.

“If there’s a chance to start medication, you want to start it as soon as possible. And in some instances, dementia in general progresses, if you are aware, you can make the house safe, and you can make sure there are people to watch the patient. It’s always good to have an early diagnosis so you can be proactive,” said Taylor.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. In Alabama, there are about 96,000 individuals over the age of 65 that are suffering from Alzheimer’s.

While health experts remain unsure what, if anything, can prevent dementia, the National Institute on Aging says leading a healthy lifestyle may help reduce risk factors.

ADPH also has resources available.

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