Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month

Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month

Currently, there are 6.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, about 1 in 9 people. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia is projected to reach 12.7 million.

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, which is why it is important to raise awareness about this disease to help people understand the signs and live a lifestyle that is the best defense against cognitive decline.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia everyone should know. Early detection is critical as there are therapies / medicine that can help slow the progression of the disease and add quality years to your life, or your loved one’s life.

10 Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Sad woman with Alzheimer's disease. Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
  • Confusion with time or place.
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing.
  • Misplacing thing and losing the ability to retrace steps.
  • Decreased or poor judgement.
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities.
  • Changes in mood and personality.

It’s important to note that many of these signs and symptoms are displayed in normal healthy aging as well, but there are key differences in how they manifest. Visit the Alzheimer’s Association website for further details here.

The biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s and dementia is simply aging, as the illness mostly impacts those who are age 65 or higher. Early onset Alzheimer’s, though infrequent, still impacts around 200,000 Americans to this day. Other strong risk factors are genetics and family history. While we can’t stop the aging process and have little control over our family history or genetics, there are other risk factors that we can influence. First and foremost, protect yourself from head injury as it has been linked to dementia. Secondly, there is strong evidence linking brain health to heart health. Keeping your heart healthy with a healthy diet, exercise, low stress levels, and proper sleep will go a long way in keeping your brain healthy. In fact, there is emerging research that suggests a lifestyle that promotes healthy aging in general also promotes healthy brain aging.

Stats and figures are important, but it’s the human stories behind this disease that inspire us to make the necessary changes. We urge you to take the time to watch this short documentary about Pam White, wife and a mother of three, who was diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s at age 61. The documentary runs just over 8 minutes, yet in that short amount of time you understand what it really means to live with this disease and what it really means to watch a loved one live with this disease.

As referenced earlier, there is growing evidence that indicates you can reduce your risk of cognitive decline by adopting healthy lifestyle habits. Courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association, here are 10 Ways to Love Your Brain:

10 Ways to Love Your Brain

  • Hand holding a brain. Break a sweat with regular cardiovascular exercise.
  • Hit the books. Learning helps reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Take care of your heart and your brain will follow.
  • Avoid brain injury.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Get your Zzz’s.
  • Take care of your mental health.
  • Buddy up – stay socially engaged and connected.
  • Challenge and activate your mind.

Racial Disparities and Health Inequities

According to the 2022 Facts and Figures report released by the Alzheimer’s Association,  older non-Hispanic Blacks and Hispanic Americans are disproportionately more likely than older Whites to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In addition, both groups are more likely to have missed diagnoses than older Whites. Research suggests that “the difference in risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementiasis explained by disparities produced by the historic and continued marginalization  of Black and Hispanic people in the United States.” These factors are social determinants of health, which can impact up to 80% of all health outcomes.

We strongly encourage you to join the fight to cure this disease and support those who suffer with it, as well as take preventive measure to protect yourself from it. Here are just a few ways you can make a difference:

1. Go to the Alzheimer’s Association website and get informed.

2. Donate to the Alzheimer’s Association so they can continue with critical research and support for those affected by Alzheimer’s.

3. Volunteer and/or become an advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association.

4. Spread awareness through social media.

5. Share your own story about the impact Alzheimer’s has had on your life.

This month we encourage you to take the time to understand more about this disease so you can help yourself and the people you love. Living with Alzheimer’s can be both heartbreaking and terrifying, but with more research and donations, advancements can be made to reduce its effects, slow its progression, and hopefully one day find a cure!

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