November is National Alzheimers Awareness month. When President Reagan designated these 30 days in 1983, less than 2 million Americans suffered the progressive form of dementia. Today, that number has nearly tripled.
If someone you love suffered from Alzheimer’s, you already know the effects it can have on their life and the lives of those who care about them. Use this month to educate others about the warning signs. If you don’t know anyone with or affected by Alzheimer’s, it’s very likely that you will–every 70 seconds, a family in America is affected. Education is the best defense. Read on to learn a few facts you probably didn’t know about Alzheimer’s disease and its prevention.
Alzheimer’s if often detected late in its progression.
The average amount of time Alzheimers takes from early onset until death is roughly 14 years. However, it’s detected nearly ten years into its course. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are ten early signs to look out for:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges planning or solving problems
- difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion with time and place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spacial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Change in mood and personality
The reason Alzheimer’s is frequently diagnosed late is that too many people believe memory loss is a natural part of aging. It’s not. The sooner you notice the early warning signs, the better your chances of treating Alzheimer’s will be.
Current drugs are more effective than you probably realize.
Too many people believe that Alzheimer’s is untreatable, or that the treatments are simply not effective enough. That’s because, as stated above, Alzheimer’s disease is often diagnosed too late. The earlier someone intervenes, the more likely treatment will get a positive response. New information is being learned every day, and the FDA has trial drugs in the works right now that are proving to be very promising. It’s possible that an effective cure is already in the pipeline. What’s more, the deterioration process can be diminished with a healthy diet, physical exercise, and social engagement, along with doctors’ recommended treatment.
The head and the heart are closely related.
It’s worth restating that regular exercise can reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s. High blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and obesity all contribute to an increased likelihood of developing cognitive decline. Likewise, diabetes, poor diet, head injuries, inactivity, smoking, and isolation are all potential factors in developing Alzheimer’s. Manage these risks now to help prevent Alzheimer’s later. It’s important to know that the heart, in particular, plays a role in the health of your brain; it keeps the oxygen flowing. There is a very close association between vascular and cognitive health.
November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness month. By having read this article, you’ve begun to do your part in educating yourself about the risk factors and prevention methods associated with the cognitive disease. Share what you’ve learned throughout the month, and if a loved one has suffered from Alzheimer’s, tell your story.
November is also National Caregivers Month. Learn more about what partnering with caregivers like those at Assisting Hands can do for you and your loved ones by visiting the other pages on our website.