Alzheimer's Awareness

VATIC Expressions

Truth, Transparency, Transformation

Volume IV, Fall 2018 Issue

Alzheimer’s Awareness

by Patricia McClure-Chessier

June was Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month. The Alzheimer's Association uses the month of June to help raise global awareness and funds to advance research and end Alzheimer's! In the month of June, advocates are asked to wear purple and use their brains to help fight Alzheimer's disease. June 21st was considered the "Longest Day" because the summer solstice is in June in the Northern Hemisphere, and the winter solstice is in June in the Southern Hemisphere. The "Longest Day" was all about love for those affected by Alzheimer's disease. The events were held from sunrise to sunset to honor those facing Alzheimer's with strength, passion, and endurance. 

According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior symptoms. The symptoms usually get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. The most common early symptom of Alzheimer's is difficulty remembering newly learned information. Alzheimer's is a progressive and complex disease that has no boundaries. It wreaks havoc on the family, friends, and caregivers of an affected loved one. Dementia “is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life.”¹  Memory loss, confusion, and mental decline are some examples. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia. According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60-80% of reported dementia cases, there are approximately 5.7 million people living with Alzheimer's in the United States where the disease is the 6th leading cause of death.² Although, June has been designated "Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month," every day is a good day to show your brain some love.

It is never too late to include healthy habits into your daily life to help prevent Alzheimer's. Below are 10 tips from the Alzheimer's Association on how you can love your brain.

  1. Hit the books: Formal education will help reduce risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Options include taking classes at a local college, community center or online.

  2. Stump yourself: Challenge your mind. Build a piece of furniture or play games of strategy such as Sudoku or Bridge.

  3. Catch some Z's: Not getting enough sleep may result in problems with memory and thinking. 

  4. Break a sweat: Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow. Studies have shown that physical activity reduces the risk of cognitive decline. 

  5. Fuel your body: Eat a balanced diet that is higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. 

  6. Butt out: Smoking increases the risk of cognitive decline. 

  7. Follow your heart: Obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes negatively impact your cognitive health. 

  8. Heads up: Brain injury can raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seat belt and use a helmet when riding a bike or taking part in contact sports. 

  9. Mental Health is important: Studies show that depression is linked with cognitive decline. Seek help if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or stress.

  10. Buddy up: Staying socially engaged may help with brain support. Find ways to be actively involved in your community or engage in fun activities with friends and family.

For more information, visit their website: alz.org/10ways

Submitted by Patricia McClure-Chessier

¹ https://www.cdc.gov/features/alzheimers-disease-deaths/index.html

² https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures

© 2018 Patricia M. McClure

Patricia McClure-Chessier is an award-winning author, and her book Losing a Hero to Alzheimer's: The Story of Pearl is available for sale at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and WestBowPress.com. 

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