South Carolina leads the nation in highest number of deaths from Alzheimer's disease

(WIS) - Watching a loved one suffer from a disease is never easy, especially a disease with no cure or treatment.

The month of June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness month. It's a time dedicated to increasing awareness to Alzheimer's disease, available resources and how people can get involved to support the cause.  

Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with your daily life.

According to the Alzheimer's association, South Carolina currently has the highest death rate to Alzheimer's in America. There are 89,000 people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia, and 309,000 care givers are providing about 352,000,000 unpaid hours of care.

"The one thing that motivates me is this disease has zero survivors, my grandmother has Alzheimer's. She is currently in a facility. We have been battling this disease for quite some time. I was a caregiver along with other members of my family, and we've watched this disease steal her personality not just her memories." Wilson said.

The disease has a long duration and worsens over time, which means people who are diagnosed could possibly live with the disease for 8 to 10 years.

The disease is the 6th leading cause of death in America and the only one in the top 10 that does not have a cure, a treatment, or a way to slow it down.

"We get asked very frequently I forgot my keys, or I forgot the name of a friend, does that mean I have dementia?" Taylor Wilson, Director of Communications and Advocacy at the Alzheimer's Association in South Carolina said. "We're looking for things that are more significant than that- changes in personality, not being able to find their home, getting lost inside their own home."

So what's the difference between Alzheimer's and typical age related changes?

Missing a monthly payment, forgetting which day it is and remembering it later, sometimes forgetting a word to use, and loosing things from time to time are normal age-related changes.

Signs of Alzheimer's and dementia fall more along the lines of the inability to manage a budget, losing track of the date or season, difficulty having a conversation, or misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.

Click here to see 10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's.

The Alzheimer's association is constantly working on research for prevention in hopes to someday find cure.

The Longest Day is coming up in June, which is a nationwide event to help raise money to fund research and help find a cure.

How The Longest Day works is participants sign up for an activity or hobby that they love. You can join a team or register as an individual. Each participant is asked to raise funds for the Alzheimer's association.

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