June is National Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month, a month to show a little extra love to your noggin.
Every three seconds someone in the world develops dementia, with nearly 50 million people currently living with the disease worldwide. Perhaps more alarmingly, that number is expected to reach 132 million by 2050.The sixth-leading cause of death and the only leading disease without a prevention, treatment or cure, Alzheimer’s kills more Americans every year than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
Dementia affects parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language, and Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. While the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease increases with age, Alzheimer’s disease is not considered a “normal” part of aging. Most people living with Alzheimer’s disease are older than 65 years; however, people younger than age 65 can develop Alzheimer’s, too.
One of the first steps toward raising awareness is educating people on important facts concerning the progression of the disease and the number of older adults that it affects around the world. Here are a few facts that everyone should know:
- Most older adults don’t actually know they have a problem. The early signs of dementia include problems speaking or finding the right words during conversations, behavioral changes and difficulty with daily tasks like dressing. However according to the Alzheimer’s Association, even after these symptoms are recognized by a health professional, only 45% of patients are told by their doctors of their diagnosis. The failure to disclose the diagnosis to patients and their caregivers can prevent seniors from receiving the early treatment they need.
- Dementia impacts more and more people every year. It is estimated that around 44 million people in the world are currently living with dementia. While this is already a high number, it’s supposed to continue to increase over the years.
- Alzheimer’s typically leads to premature death. Many people know that Alzheimer’s disease causes debilitating memory loss that can make daily tasks difficult. However, it’s essential that individuals are aware that Alzheimer’s is actually the sixth leading cause of death among the U.S. population, explained the Alzheimer’s Association. As there is currently no cure for dementia, the disease is the only illness in the country’s top 10 causes of death that can’t be prevented or even slowed (unicityhealthcare.com).
Here are 5 ways to love your brain this month:
1. Hit the gym: Engage in regular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to your brain and body. Several studies have found an association between physical activity and lesser risk of a cognitive decline.
2. Fuel your body: Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is lower in fat and higher in leafy greens and fruit. Although research on diet and cognitive function is limited, certain diets may contribute to risk reduction.
3. Hit snooze: Not getting enough sleep may result in problems with memory and thinking. Try to shoot for 6-8 hours of sleep a night to feel well-rested and ready to take on the day!
4. Mental health matters: Some studies link a history of depression with increased risk of cognitive decline. Manage your stress and other factors in your life that can be hurting your mental health.
5. Challenge yourself: Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Do something artistic. Play games, such as bridge, that make you think strategically. Challenging your mind may have short- and long-term benefits for your brain.
For more information relating to this article, please visit www.alz.org.
Thank you to the Alzheimer’s Association for the statistics in this article.