If you have a brain, then you’re at risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Today, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and by 2050 that number is projected to reach as many as 16 million. There are currently 62,000 Oklahomans living with the disease.
Misunderstanding crucial facts about the disease can have devastating consequences that keep people from seeking an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and reduce access to needed resources, clinical trials and support services. To debunk these harmful misconceptions, the Alzheimer’s Association is highlighting several essential truths during Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month in June, including:
· Alzheimer’s disease is fatal – there are no survivors. From 2000-2013, the number of Alzheimer’s deaths increased 71 percent, while deaths from other major diseases decreased.
· Alzheimer’s disease is not normal aging. Alzheimer’s is a fatal and progressive disease that attacks the brain, killing nerve cells and tissue, affecting an individual’s ability to remember, think and plan. Brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s may begin 20 or more years before symptoms appear. Although age is the greatest known risk factor, Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging.
· Alzheimer’s risks are higher among women, African-Americans and Hispanics. African-Americans are about twice as likely as whites to have Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely. Additionally, more than two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease are women.
The Alzheimer’s Association works with caregivers to enhance care and support for all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Comprehensive online resources and information are available through the Association’s website at alz.org and the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.
During Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, the Alzheimer’s Association is encouraging everyone to uncover the truth about Alzheimer’s and to show their support for people living with the disease by doing the following:
· Participate in The Longest Day® (alz.org/tld) on June 20, a sunrise-to-sunset event to honor those facing Alzheimer’s disease with strength, heart and endurance.
· Join the Alzheimer’s Association in wearing purple throughout the month, especially on June 20. Share photos of yourself, family, friends and co-workers wearing the movement’s signature color via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. with the hashtag #ENDALZ.
· Attend a free education program (alz.org/crf) to learn more about the disease. Special programs in June include The Basics, Effective Communication, Know the 10 Signs, and Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body: Tips from the Latest Research.
This content of this editorial is provided by Alzheimer’s Association Oklahoma Chapter.