National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month
What is it?
Alzheimer's disease is named for Dr. Alois Alzheimer, whose research first brought the condition to light in 1906. The most common type of dementia, Alzheimer's is a degenerative brain disorder that involves progressive memory loss, difficulty thinking, and behavioral problems. Over time, these symptoms can grow severe enough to interfere with daily life.
But just because you often forget where you put your keys doesn't mean you're suffering from Alzheimer's. What differentiates Alzheimer's from normal signs of aging? If you're concerned that you or someone you know may be displaying symptoms, read about the 10 Signs of Alzheimer's or take an online class to learn what to watch for and when to talk to your doctor.
The recently released Shriver Report, a study by Maria Shriver and the Alzheimer's Association, states that 65% (3.3 million) of Alzheimer's sufferers and 60% (6.7 million) of Alzheimer's caregivers in America are women. The report estimates that by mid-century, 8 million American women will be diagnosed with the disease.
Global statistics can be found in the World Alzheimer Report 2010, a publication of Alzheimer's Disease International. Here are some sample facts.
- The chance of developing Alzheimer's roughly doubles every five years after the age of 65.
- There are an estimated 35.6 million people worldwide living with dementia in 2010.
- Alzheimer's and other dementia disorders will cost the world an estimated $604 billion in 2010. That's about 1% of the world's gross domestic product. If that were a company's corporate revenue, it would beat out Wal-Mart and Exxon Mobil.
What you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones
As of yet, there is no cure for Alzheimer's. But research suggests that regular physical exercise, a healthy diet, an active social life, and a challenged mind can all contribute to decreasing your chances of developing the disease and to slowing its progress once it starts. The Alzheimer's Association's website provides information on current research and tips to reduce your risk.
Where to go for more information, support, and activism
- The Alzheimer's Association's Southwest Missouri Chapter is located at 1500 S. Glenstone, Springfield, MO 65804, 417-886-2199.
- Find area patient and caregiver support groups and education opportunities.
- Find support day or night by calling the Alzheimer's Association 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900.
- November is also National Caregivers Month. Honor someone you know (or yourself!) online by posting an appreciative comment.
- There are still a few local events you can participate in to support research and awareness this and next month. Check out this calendar to see what's going on.
The Alzheimer's Project (DVD)
Living Your Best with Early-Stage Alzheimer's by Lisa Snyder
Exercises for Brain Health by William Smith
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