Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month 2021
The month of June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease and is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60% – 80% of all cases. There are 47 million Americans over the age of 65 who have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia; estimates predict that by 2030, that number will reach 76 million. Alzheimer’s is currently the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. The history of Alzheimer’s goes back to 1906 when a medical professional named Alois Alzheimer diagnosed the first case of Alzheimer’s in a woman.
Research shows that Alzheimer’s disease begins in the brain approximately 20 years before symptoms start to develop; these symptoms develop when nerve cells die. This causes the overall brain to shrink, and overtime become deformed, leading to symptoms. The initial set of symptoms are considered potential warning signs of Alzheimer’s; these include issues with talking and writing, confusion, increased vision problems, decreased decision making skills, difficulty concentrating, withdrawal from hobbies, activities, slight personality changes, and misplacing items.
Once the disease has progressed, the more recognized symptoms of Alzheimer’s begin to develop, these include, but are not limited to:
- a worsening of all previous symptoms,
- loss of short-term and long-term memory,
- an inability to learn new information/tasks,
- loss of attention span,
- an increased likelihood to wonder and get lost due to restlessness,
- mood and behavioral changes,
- hallucinations and paranoia,
- an increased time spent sleeping, and
- an inability to walk, speak, and swallow.
The most important part of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is learning about the steps that can be taken to help prevent the disease and to understand how researchers track and attempt to work on a cure for it. Currently, some of the ways researchers believe can reduce the risk for developing Alzheimer’s include regular cardiovascular activity, continued education at all stages of life, not smoking, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep at night, managing stress and mental health, avoiding head injuries, completing mentally challenging activities, and engaging in regular social activity.
There are studies being conducted that examine the potential hereditary aspects of the disease and some the various brain functions that could contribute to the disease. Some ways to help support this cause is to wear purple in the month of June as well as donate to various Alzheimer’s research and support organizations. To learn more about how you can help, visit www.alz.org.