June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month and with the summer solstice a few days away, the Alzheimer’s Association encourages the public to raise awareness.
Sunday, June 20 is the day with the most sunlight known as the Summer solstice or the longest day, a day when thousands of participants from around the world join to fight the “darkness” of Alzheimer’s through various activities, raising funds and awareness of the disease.
A recent report from the Alzheimer’s Association stated, more than 6 million Americans are living with the disease and worldwide, 50 million people are living with dementia.
It’s reported one in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia and more than 11 million family and friends provide care to people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the United States.
Additionally, the number of people living with dementia worldwide is set to skyrocket to 82 million by 2030.
Per alz.org, in 2020 caregivers of people living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias provided an estimated 15.3 billion hours of unpaid care, contributing to the nation’s value of more than $256.7 billion.
As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease beginning with mild memory loss and possibly leading to loss of the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment.
The disease involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language, with symptoms appearing after age 60 and continuing to increase with age.
However, as stated by the CDC, Alzheimer’s is not limited by age, Younger-onset, also known as early-onset Alzheimer’s dementia, affects an estimated 200,000 people younger than age 65.
Although scientists do not yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s, several factors are said to affect each person including age and family history of the disease.
Reports by the CDC suggest as a person ages, their brain changes, but Alzheimer’s and related dementias are not an inevitable part of aging. Up to 40% of dementia cases may be prevented or delayed. It helps to understand what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to brain health.
Although deaths from other major causes have decreased significantly, records indicate that death from Alzheimer’s disease has increased.
Brain health is a concept that involves making the most of the brain’s capacity and helping to reduce some risks that occur with aging. Also, it refers to the ability to draw on the strength of the brain to remember, learn, play, concentrate and maintain a clear and active mind.
Studies show that healthy behaviors, which can prevent some kinds of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease may also reduce your risk for cognitive decline. Although age, genetics, and family history can’t be changed, the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention, and care external icon suggest that addressing risk factors may prevent or delay up to 40% of dementia cases.
The CDC provides the following tips to help maintain your brain health:
• quit smoking
• maintain a healthy blood pressure level
• be physically active
• maintain a healthy weight
• get enough sleep
• manage your blood sugar
• learn a new skill or activity
Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging and the alz.org and CDC encourage raising awareness that may help spot the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Normal brain aging may mean slower processing speeds and more trouble multitasking, but routine memory, skills, and knowledge are stable and may even improve with age.