June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Every year the month aims to raise awareness and challenge the stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s and dementia. The month is a great opportunity for individuals, businesses, and charities to hold events to support awareness. Here’s what we know.
Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia
Often “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s” are used interchangeably, however, these two conditions aren’t the same. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia and dementia is a broader term for conditions caused by brain injuries or diseases that negatively affect memory and thinking.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, this disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases and most patients get a diagnosis after age 65. (FC Neurology, 2019)
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are treatments that can slow the progression of the disease. 5 things you need to know about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia will help you understand the disease and how it affects our loved ones.
Know the Facts
The challenges that accompany these neurological disorders are difficult for family and friends. Continuous memory loss, declining cognitive skills, and lapses in communication associated with Alzheimer’s can lead to devastating consequences. Sadly, one in every three seniors dies from Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia. Alzheimer’s deaths have increased by 145% in the last 2 decades, which means someone develops Alzheimer’s Disease every 65 seconds. Sadly, two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s Disease are women.
Treatments are available, but there is No Cure (Yet)
Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, and there is, unfortunately, no cure for this yet.
Everyone needs to recognize that researchers are busy working on a cure for these degenerative brain disorders and the Alzheimer’s Association helps funding efforts into new medicines that will impact the future.
Meanwhile, there are treatments available to help slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease so that patients can enjoy a better quality of life. There are also medications available to help control the anxiety and sleep issues that often impact the disease.
Signs & Symptoms
As per data published only 16% of seniors get cognitive check-ups when they visit the doctor, it’s highly important to stay informed of the major signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s:
- Memory loss – Everyone has occasional memory lapses, however, the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease worsens, affecting the ability to function at work or home.
- Thinking and reasoning – Alzheimer’s disease causes difficulty concentrating, especially about abstract concepts such as dealing with numbers.
- Judgment calls – Alzheimer’s causes a decline in the ability to make reasonable judgments in everyday routine or daily situations.
- Performing familiar tasks – Eventually, people with advanced Alzheimer’s often forget how to perform basic tasks that include such as dressing, bathing, or eating.
- Personality changes – Brain changes that occur in Alzheimer’s disease can affect mood and behavior.
Although these symptoms don’t necessarily confirm that an individual has Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, it’s important to reassess your loved one’s behavior and evaluate whether anything has recently changed. Have these changes been building up for a long time?
Early Detection Can Make the Difference
While it’s important to stay informed about Alzheimer’s signs and symptoms, don’t overlook the importance of including healthcare professionals early on.
Early detection of these disorders can make all the difference in intervention and treatment options. It is also equally important to make sure to highlight concerns such as changing behavior, memory loss, or lapses in concentration.
An informed doctor may be able to ask some preliminary questions to see if Alzheimer’s is a risk and they can refer you to a specialist who will evaluate the patient’s cognitive and psychological state.
Take Steps Now to Help Protect Your Brain
Researchers are still working hard on discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, yet there are a few things that can be done to support brain health:
- Exercise with Friends. Regular exercise can help to keep your brain nourished with oxygen-rich blood and it is a great way to stay socially engaged — which creates another boost for the brain. (Mayo Clinic, 2020)
- Keep Healthy. Did you know that a Mediterranean Diet is rich in vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats which helps support a healthy brain? Adopting such healthy lifestyle habits, like getting enough sleep, etc. can also impact a huge difference.
- Keep Learning. Healthy brains are always active and curious. So, enroll in a new class or maybe learn a new language or work puzzles which keep you constantly engaged for a healthy brain and a happier life.
- Avoid Bad Stuff. Quitting unhealthy habits like smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can make a huge difference not just for brain health, but for overall health.
Alzheimer’s is a terminal illness and the average person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s has an estimated lifespan of approximately 4 to 8 years after diagnosis, although if diagnosed early, people can live with Alzheimer’s for up to 20 years. (ALZ, 2021)
Support Those Affected
To support the community, please stay educated on Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month this June. Protect your brain through healthy activities and hobbies. You can get more information on Alzheimer’s and dementia by visiting the Alzheimer’s Association web page here.
Association, Alzheimer’s. “June Is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month.” Alzheimer’s
Association /| Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, 1 Jan. 2021, www.alz.org/abam/overview.asp
“June Is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month – Alzheimer’s, Brain.” First Choice Neurology, 12 June 2019, www.fcneurology.net/june-is-alzheimers-and-brain-awareness-month/#:~:text=June%20is%20Alzheimer’s%20and%20Brain%20Awareness%20Month.,with%20Alzheimer’s%20and%20other%20dementias
“Alzheimer’s Disease.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 29 Dec. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20350447