eHealth is spending June recognizing Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and those affected by this disease.
As of 2019, about 5.8 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s dementia, including approximately 5.6 million people age 65 or older and an estimated 200,000 people under age 65, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. In order to celebrate those battling this disease, in June, we celebrate Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month.
Taking the time to develop greater awareness about Alzheimer’s, as well as the risk factors for dementia, can be an important way to learn what you can do to help mitigate or prevent it.
Continue reading to learn more about Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Dementia is a general term which refers to a decline in cognitive ability (for example, memory loss) caused by damage to brain cells, which interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most frequently occurring form of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases.
Besides memory loss and impairment, other common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include significant disruption to a person’s ability to verbally communicate, concentrate, pay attention, reason, and perceive visually. These symptoms usually begin slowly and become progressively worse over time.
Facts about Alzheimer’s and dementia
Alzheimer’s disease constitutes a tragic, significant cost to society, causing much suffering for people affected by dementia as well as their families while straining the resources of the nation’s health care system.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association:
- Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.
- 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Alzheimer’s kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
- Over 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. These caregivers provide an estimated 18.5 billion hours of care valued at almost $234 billion.
- In 2019, Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia will cost the nation $290 billion, including $195 billion in Medicare and Medicaid payments.
Although the impact of Alzheimer’s is heartbreaking, nonprofit organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association are dedicated to supporting Alzheimer’s research and improving care for those affected.
Always consult a doctor or medical professional if you begin to see signs of memory challenges within yourself or others you know. If someone is diagnosed with dementia, early detection can allow for the greatest benefit from treatments available and the possibility of joining a clinical trial or research study while providing time to plan for the future.
6 ways to reduce the risk factors of developing dementia
This Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month can be a time to honor loved ones and caretakers struggling with dementia while also serving as an opportunity to take action to help prevent the risk factors of cognitive decline.
Here are 6 strategies to help lower the risk of mental decline while supporting your overall health.
- Cognitive assessments for early detection – Only 16 percent of seniors receive regular cognitive assessments during their routine checkups, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Committing to regular assessments may contribute to earlier detection and diagnosis of cognitive decline.
- Regular exercise – While keeping yourself physically fit is always recommended, regular exercise takes on even greater importance as we age. For instance, exercise can help increase oxygen and blood flow to the brain. Whether through walking, cycling, swimming, or other activities, exercise can go a long way toward contributing to both long-term physical and mental health.
- Healthy diet – Besides regular exercise, a nutritious diet plays an important role in maintaining one’s overall and cardiovascular health. A clean, balanced diet, along with healthy eating habits, can be beneficial to heart health as well as brain health.
- Manage your health – Staying on track with managing other health conditions, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, can help to avoid physical decline. Avoiding smoking and keeping a healthy weight are also key ways to have a healthy lifestyle.
- Social engagement – Regular interaction with family, friends, and social groups can provide fun times as well as an important support network. Getting involved in your community may also contribute to counteracting depression as well as promoting one’s overall well-being.
- Mental alertness – Participating in a variety of activities, hobbies, and pastimes may help maintain cognitive alertness. Reading, playing games, completing crossword puzzles, or learning new skills can all be great ways to engage the mind and keep the brain active.
Ultimately, building Alzheimer’s awareness can encourage greater understanding and support for dementia research while inspiring us to think of ways we can help make a difference.
Together, we can work towards a world without Alzheimer’s
Visit alz.org to learn more about Alzheimer’s Awareness Month initiatives supported by the Alzheimer’s Association as the organization works toward fulfilling its mission of a world without Alzheimer’s.
This article is for general information and should not be relied on as medical advice. Check with a medical professional for medical advice. eHealth is a private online health insurance exchange where individuals, families and small businesses can compare health insurance products from brand-name insurers side by side and purchase and enroll in coverage online and over the phone, and not an official source of information for healthcare advice regarding Alzheimer’s disease.