June Marks Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month
While the vast majority of people consider Alzheimer’s disease to be simply about memory loss, there is much more that this disease impacts. The Alzheimer’s Association has dedicated itself to finding a cure — and encourages others to “Go Purple” in June to spread awareness and learn about the truths and misconceptions surrounding Alzheimer’s in order to help end the disease for good.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 47 million people around the world are currently living with this illness and other dementia-related diseases. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s cannot be prevented to date and it is not considered to be a “normal” part of the aging process. However, the organization offers hope: through healthy habits, people can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and support a healthy brain. The association also offers tips for continued brain health, including:
- Exercising – Routine physical activity has been linked to reduced risk of cognitive decline.
- Quit Smoking – Smoking cigarettes can lead to cognitive decline.
- Safety first – A brain injury can contribute to dementia and cognitive decline, so buckle up, wear a helmet when riding a bike and be aware of your surrounds so as to avoid slips or falls.
- Eat right – Fruit and veggies go beyond building a healthy body, they can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
- Get some shut-eye – Loss of sleep or sleep-related conditions like insomnia and sleep apnea can result in issues with memory and cognitive thinking.
- Stay mentally and socially active – Read a book, take up a new hobby, play a board game and get involved with your immediate circle — spending time with friends, family and neighbors can play a role in maintaining brain health.
It’s also important to note that while some memory loss is natural, there are specific early signs of Alzheimer’s that loved ones can keep eye an out for, such as:
- Continual memory loss specific to dates/events, asking the same question or repeating the same information over and over, increasingly replying on family members to handle tasks they once did on their own with ease.
- Confusion about the passage of time — what season it is, forgetting where they are or how they got there.
- Difficulty following or participating in a conversation.
- Decrease in personal hygiene efforts or poor decision-making skills (as it pertains to financial decisions, for example).
- Changes in mood – Confusion, anxiety, suspicion, fear and depression can all point to early signs of Alzheimer’s or cognitive brain function.
A check-up with the doctor of the person experiencing these new symptoms, as early detection is important in Alzheimer’s. To learn more about the Alzheimer Association’s efforts, visit www.alz.org.