Learn the truths about Alzheimer’s disease for Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, including ten warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease and ten ways to love your brain. Sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association.
June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month and I’m working with the Alzheimer’s Association to help uncover the truth about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. It is a disease that is misunderstood by many people, including myself.
To be honest, I didn’t know much about dementia or Alzheimer’s disease until recently, when close friends lost their father to a form of dementia. We saw how painful it was for them to watch him decline, and how difficult it was to care for him, especially in the later stages of the disease.
Like many people, I have used the terms dementia and Alzheimer’s interchangeably. To clarify, dementia is a general term for a decline in mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is caused by physical changes in the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, and accounts for 60-80% of cases.
One big misconception is that Alzheimer’s is mostly about memory loss. This is not true. Alzheimer’s is a fatal and progressive disease that attacks the brain, killing nerve cells and tissue, impairing one’s thinking and behavior. And although age is the greatest known factor, Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging.
Take a look at these 10 Key Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s disease that everyone should learn to recognize in themselves or others. Click here to download a checklist to see if you or a loved one show any signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Some quick facts that I learned about Alzheimer’s disease were both informative and shocking:
- Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. and is the only cause of death among the top 10 in the U.S. that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and by 2050 that number is projected to reach as many as 16 million.
- African-Americans are about twice as likely as whites to have Alzheimer’s or another dementia; Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely. More than two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease are women.
- Alzheimer’s disease costs taxpayers $18.3 million each hour. As the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s grows, the total payments for health care, long-term care and hospice care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are projected to increase to more than $1 trillion in 2050.
In addition to these facts, I found these Eight Truths about Alzheimer’s very helpful in understanding this disease better:
If there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, what is the point of trying to fight this disease you might ask. While Alzheimer’s cannot be prevented, early diagnosis allows better access to quality medical care and support services, and provides the opportunity for people with Alzheimer’s disease to participate in decisions about their care, including providing informed consent for current and future plans. Knowing the diagnosis early can also enable the person with Alzheimer’s to get the maximum benefit from available treatments, and may also increase chances of participating in clinical drug trials that help advance research.
The Alzheimer’s Association provides resources that can help caregivers enhance care for their loved ones with Alzheimer’s and provide support for all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Comprehensive online resources are available through their website alz.org and the 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900.
Adopting healthy habits can also help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and contribute to brain health. Staying mentally active, engaging in regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet benefits your body and your brain. And there is some evidence that people may benefit from staying socially engaged with friends, family and the community.
Here are some steps to reduce your risk of cognitive decline:
Imagine a world without Alzheimer’s. Help raise awareness and erase stigmas about Alzheimer’s Disease by wearing purple and sharing your photos on social media with the hashtag #ENDALZ during the month of June.
Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease at ALZ.org
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Alzheimer’s Association. The opinions and text are all mine.