November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, so we’re going to raise some awareness! Right now there are more than 5.2 million people in the United States of America who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. According to ALZ.org Alzheimer’s is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S and one in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. While other diseases like HIV, breast cancer, and strokes are decreasing, Alzheimer’s has increased by 68% in the last ten years.
What is Alzheimer’s?
The Alzheimer’s Association defines Alzheimer’s as a” type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.” This disease worsens over time as it attacks the holder’s brain. In its early stages, a person diagnosed may only experience mild memory loss. Later stages, however, can cause a person to “lose their ability to carry on a conversation or respond to their environment.” People with this illness can survive anywhere from 4-20 years depending on their health. While scientists are currently racing to find a cure, unfortunately right now there is none, and this degenerative disease will eventually lead to death.
What causes Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s can be brought on by a variety of reasons ranging from genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle. People generally develop Alzheimer’s around the age of 85 or older, although it is not uncommon to be diagnosed as early as 65-years-old. Another factor that greatly influences likelihood is genetics. Having a family member with Alzheimer’s puts you at much greater risk. Women are also more likely to be diagnosed than men. And factors like diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, having prior head injuries, and sleep disorders also increase the risk.
What you can do to prevent it.
The best way to prevent this disease is by eating right, exercising, staying mentally and socially active, and keeping stress in check. According to Help Guide there are six pillars of a brain-healthy lifestyle.
- Regular exercise
- Healthy diet
- Mental stimulation
- Quality sleep
- Stress management
- Active social life
Help Guide’s article Alzheimer’s & Dementia Prevention says, “The more you strengthen each of the six pillars in your daily life, the healthier and hardier your brain will be. When you lead a brain-healthy lifestyle, your brain will stay working stronger…longer.”
If you’re interested in learning more about this disease and National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month visit, www.alz.org.