Alzheimer’s disease & prevention

November 3, 2017

It’s November again, which means it’s National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. In light of the seriousness of the disease, and in recognition of those who are affected by it, we want to spread awareness about this important senior health topic.

Specifically, we want to:

alzheimer's patient

Senior man looking at window. Source: Getty

The Impact of Alzheimer’s

This November, an estimated 5.5-6.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Another estimated 1 million Americans are currently suffering from other types of dementia. Countless caregivers and family members are impacted. Without a solution, by 2050 as many as 16 million Americans will be diagnosed.

Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, and every 66 seconds someone develops the disease. The total cost to society of loved ones lost is incalculable, though financial experts estimate healthcare and other related costs for treatment in 2017 will reach $259 billion.

Seniors Spotlight

96% of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are aged 65+. This accounts for about 1 in 10 seniors. In addition to being 65+, risk factors include being a woman, African American, and Hispanic. Current evidence suggests the epidemic will get worse because seniors are living longer now than ever.


Alzheimer’s Research Initiatives

Ronald Reagan was the first president to officially recognize the disease with a month-long initiative to raise awareness. Sadly, little more than decade later, Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a disease that ultimately took his life. The current White House has yet again renewed interest in Alzheimer’s Research.

Current research initiatives include the NIH’s Brain Research, through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, and the Exceptional Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration (EUREKA) prize competitions.

TrialMatch is an Alzheimer’s Association initiative to match individuals with Alzheimer’s to clinical trials. As individuals participate in research studies, more is discovered about what causes the disease, how it impacts the brain, and who is at risk. In addition to helping learn more about the disease, these participants may be able to receive the most advanced experimental treatment methods available.

alzheimer's research

Lab researchers. Source: Getty

Current Alzheimer’s Treatments

The FDA has approved 5 medications for the treatment of Alzheimer’s. These medicines are used to treat each of the various stages of progression. While there is no current cure, a variety of medicines combined with early detection may help to slow and manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Checking for early warning signs is important to enable early intervention. If you think you or a loved one exhibits the signs of Alzheimer’s disease, schedule an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation. Medical professionals can use Alzheimer’s tests, such as this one that was recently developed by 15-year-old boy.


7 Ways to Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk

Research suggests Alzheimer’s is the result of brain abnormalities, such as plaques, tangles, inflammation and other types of brain damage. Keeping your brain healthy throughout your life – and into your senior years – can limit your chances of developing Alzheimer’s. Follow these Alzheimer’s prevention tips from the National Institute of Health:

  1. Get regular exercise
  2. Eat balanced meals with fruits and veggies
  3. Avoid isolation – Maintain a close social group
  4. Keep your mind active
  5. Manage your health, including blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and body weight
  6. Limit tobacco use and heavy alcohol consumption
  7. Get a full night’s sleep (8 hours for adults)

caregiver

Woman helping man. Source: Getty

5 Tips for Caregivers

Helping someone manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s can be challenging, especially as the disease increases in severity. In order to avoid conflict, and to help cope with the impact of Alzheimer’s on a loved one, the Mayo Clinic offers solutions to work toward reducing frustrations:

  1. Schedule conservatively – You’ll find that some tasks of daily living take longer.
  2. Get the person involved – Keeping their mind active and encouraging participation helps manage the disease’s progression.
  3. Give choices – For instance, asking about food preferences or physical activity options.
  4. Keep it simple – Avoid complex instructions, and provide reminders when needed.
  5. Limit distractions – Turning off the TV or other distractions enhances concentration for those struggling with Alzheimer’s.

Spread the word

Last, you can spread the word. Raising awareness is the point of Alzheimer’s Awareness month. The more people are aware of the impact of this cruel disease, the better we can reduce future occurences, improve Alzheimer’s research, and save lives. Share this page with a friend!



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