You probably know that Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain and more specifically people’s memory, but that’s hardly all you need to know about this devastating disease!
That’s the purpose of Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month: to reveal important truths about the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., resulting in not only earlier detection but also greater empathy and understanding of those living with the disease.
Below are a few truths about Alzheimer’s:
It’s fatal. There are no survivors. In fact, from 2000-2013, the number of Alzheimer’s deaths increased 71 percent, while deaths from other major diseases decreased.
It goes beyond memory loss. This disease can manifest itself in symptoms way beyond forgetfulness. These changes include difficulty in planning and solving problems, mood changes, and confusion about time and place. Check out the 10 key warning signs of Alzheimer’s.
African-American women are at the highest risk. Women make up more than two-thirds of the Alzheimer’s population in the U.S. African-Americans are about twice as likely and Hispanics about one and a half times as likely to have Alzheimer’s or another dementia as Caucasians.
Early detection matters. While more than 5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease, only about half of them have been diagnosed. Diagnosing the disease as early as possible means you can receive treatment that could improve your symptoms for longer as well as potentially extend how long you can live independently. Early detection also allows you to be an active participant in decisions about your care, living arrangements, and financial and legal matters.
You can’t prevent Alzheimer’s, but you can reduce your risk of cognitive decline. The same general rules for keeping your body healthy apply to your brain, including staying physically active and eating a healthy diet. But it’s also important to work out your brain, which means reading, doing puzzles and learning new skills. There’s also evidence to show that people who remain socially active also maintain better brain health.
Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the country. This disease doesn’t only cost people their lives and caregivers a vast amount of time and energy. It also costs taxpayers $18.3 million each hour, with the total national cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias estimated at $236 billion a year.
In June, help the Alzheimer’s Association spread awareness about this disease by wearing purple throughout the month, posting your “purple” pictures and information about Alzheimer’s on your social media channels, and raising money and awareness on The Longest Day on June 20.
Share how you are doing your part to spread awareness about Alzheimer’s this month.