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Alzheimer's Awareness Month: What You Should Know About This Progressive Disease
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Alzheimer's Awareness Month: What You Should Know About This Progressive Disease

Over 6 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's, and it is anticipated that by 2050, this number will almost double. With staggering rates of this disease impacting senior citizens and the families caring for them, the need to boost awareness around this neurological condition is greater now, more than ever.


November is Alzheimer's Awareness Month, which presents an opportunity to educate the public about Alzheimer's disease and increase understanding of its causes, symptoms, and impact on individuals and families with loved ones who have or could develop the condition in the future.

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

According to the CDC, Alzheimer's disease, the most prevalent form of dementia, is a progressive condition starting with mild memory loss and potentially advancing to an inability to engage in conversation and respond to the surroundings.

The disease impacts areas of the brain responsible for thought, memory, and language, significantly hindering a person's capacity to perform daily activities.

The exact cause of Alzheimer's is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

The warning signs of Alzheimer's disease can differ among individuals and typically emerge gradually. While Alzheimer's is not a normal aspect of aging, age is the best-known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Memory problems commonly represent one of the initial indicators of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, especially if they worsen over time.

In addition to this, Healthline notes that symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease may show up as one or more of the following:

  • Alterations in mood, personality, or behavior.
  • Disruption of daily life due to memory loss, like becoming disoriented in familiar surroundings or repeating questions.
  • Difficulty in accomplishing routine tasks at home, work, or during leisure activities.
  • Diminished or impaired judgment.
  • Misplacement of items with an inability to retrace steps to locate them.

Who Does ​​Alzheimer's Affect? 

The prevalence of Alzheimer's in the United States is rapidly increasing, with an estimated 6.7 million among those aged 65 and older in 2023. Approximately 73% of individuals with Alzheimer's are aged 75 or older, and the overall rate for those aged 65 and older is 1 in 9 (10.7%), according to the Alzheimer's Association.

One out of every three seniors passes away with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, surpassing the combined mortality of breast cancer and prostate cancer. Elderly Black Americans have approximately twice the likelihood of experiencing Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia compared to elderly white individuals.

Prevention and Support of Alzheimer's Disease

The exact cause of Alzheimer's disease remains unclear, and scientists believe it is likely influenced by multiple factors such as age and family history, but genetics do not determine one's fate or outcome.

There is no cure for Alzheimer's, and caring for a loved one with the disease can take a financial, mental, and emotional strain on the family as the disease progresses. Caregivers face daily challenges, adjusting to changing abilities and behaviors, and as the disease advances, more intensive care is often required.

As more research and awareness spreads around Alzheimer's, taking the proper measures to improve and manage brain cognition is essential. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity, a nutritious diet, limited alcohol consumption, and not smoking, may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Raising awareness helps reduce the stigma associated with Alzheimer's and related dementias and can foster a more supportive and compassionate community for individuals affected by the disease.

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Featured image by Getty Images

 

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