Most people in the United States have had experiences with loved ones – or known others with loved ones– impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease [AD]. Unfortunately, many people around the world do not understand dementia or its detrimental effects.
That’s why Alzheimer’s Disease International established September as World Alzheimer’s Month, and September 21st as World Alzheimer’s Day, to raise awareness and minimize the misunderstandings that surround this and other forms of dementia.
“(Two) out of every (three) people globally believe there is little or no understanding of dementia in their countries. The impact of World Alzheimer's Month is growing, but the stigmatization and misinformation that surrounds dementia remains a global problem that requires global action,” the World Alzheimer’s Month website contends.
To that end, I think it’s important I share some vital information about AD, so you have a better awareness about this devastating brain disease.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
The Alzheimer’s Association [AA] defines AD as a form of dementia that negatively affects memory, thinking, behavior, and eventually, activities of daily living. Of diagnosed cases of dementia, AD accounts for 60-80% of them and is the sixth leading cause of death in the US.
“Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment,” the AA website states.
What are the risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease?
Age. Although AD is not a normal condition in aging, and not everyone will develop AD in their senior years, age is a risk factor.
Family History. If you’ve had a grandparent, parent or sibling who has suffered from AD, you are at greater risk of developing the disease. One must examine their loved one’s lifestyle, as well, because that may also play a role.
Genetics. Scientists and researchers know there is a link in family genes that contribute to the onset of AD. AA explains, “Two categories of genes influence whether a person develops a disease: risk genes and deterministic genes. Alzheimer's genes have been found in both categories. It is estimated that less than 1% of Alzheimer’s cases are caused by deterministic genes (genes that cause a disease, rather than increase the risk of developing a disease).”
Lifestyle. The choices we make in life contribute to our overall health and wellness. Poor choices, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and poor dietary habits negatively impact our minds and bodies. There is a brain-heart connection, so health conditions like stroke, diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol may prevent proper blood flow and perpetuate “tangles” and disconnects in the brain.
Are there ways to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?
As researchers around the world continue to explore this question, we know that healthy lifestyle changes can make a difference in whether you or a loved one develops AD. Good heart-health is important to maintain proper blood flow, oxygen and nutrition to the brain, and we know a healthy brain is the goal to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.
Stop smoking. Smokers should seek cessation treatments to break the habit.
Drink in moderation. If you consume alcohol, exercise moderation, especially as you are aging.
Eat to live, don’t live to eat. Foodies should make healthy choices when shopping for groceries, preparing meals and dining out.
Although strides are made every day to find a cure for AD, there are none, as of now. There are some promising antibody studies, as the mission continues to cure AD and dementia, but nothing definitive. In the meantime, stay cognizant of your family history, genetics and lifestyle choices to curb the risk factors that can lead to Alzheimer’s Disease.
I employ caregivers who are certified in Alzheimer’s and dementia care for seniors. They are available 24/7/365, to assist with medication reminders, companion care, personal care, homemaker’s services, wellness calls, wake-up/tuck-in services, respite care for weary family members, and more. I offer a no-obligation, FREE consultation to meet with you and/or your loved one to assess specific needs and match the perfect caregiver to help. 727.942.2539
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Alzheimer’s Disease International
World Alzheimer’s Month