When it comes to brain health, it’s never too late to start making healthy changes. By taking care of your mind, body and social well-being, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. And to shed light on this progressive brain disease, June marks Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month backed by the Alzheimer’s Association.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia, impacts parts of the brain responsible for memory, behavior and thinking. Dementia differs in severity, and it’s a more general term for cognitive loss that interferes with everyday activities. While all dementias are caused by physical changes to the brain, dementia can be related to other conditions like Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
As it progresses, Alzheimer’s signs move from mild memory loss to more severe symptoms like the inability to hold a conversation or respond to the environment. While there is age-related risk beginning as your near 65, almost 200,000 people have early-onset Alzheimer’s according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
More than 6 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s today — and those caring for loved ones with the disease number more than 11 million.
10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s
Small changes to your brain start in your 20s, and these changes compound over time and may become noticeable as you get closer to age 70. Any change in your cognitive ability can feel scary. So how do you know if something is typical for your age or something bigger?
The Alzheimer’s Association recommends focusing on these 10 early warning signs for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
- Challenges planning or solving problems.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
- Confusion with time or place.
- Trouble with vision or spatial relationships.
- New problems with words, speaking or writing.
- Misplacing things and being unable to go back over their steps.
- Decreased or poor judgment.
- Withdrawing from work or social activities.
- Changes in mood or personality.
If you notice any of the changes above in yourself or with a loved one, it’s time to schedule a doctor’s appointment to learn more.
The Latest Advancements in Alzheimer’s Research
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, research continues alongside clinical trials. However, certain symptoms — like sleep or particular behaviors — may be treated with prescribed medications to improve quality of life.
Current Alzheimer’s research centers around these six main areas, according to Mayo Clinic:
- Plaques. A characteristic of Alzheimer’s, plaques are clumps of beta-amyloid that form in the brain. Current research investigates treatments to either remove or stop these plaques from forming.
- Tau proteins. A brain cell transport system, vital to overall brain health and function, can be disrupted when taus form tangles. Current research focuses on stopping tau proteins from twisting.
- Inflammation. Alzheimer’s leads to chronic, low-level brain inflammation. Research is underway to reduce inflammation and its impact on the brain.
- Insulin. Insulin may impact the brain and brain-cell function, and insulin-based changes to the brain may be related to Alzheimer’s.
- Head and heart. Diminishing heart and blood vessel health appear to increase Alzheimer’s risk.
- Hormones. Hormone-based therapy, like estrogen, is being investigated for its ability to protect brain function for longer.
Outside of medications, though, certain may help decrease symptoms and onset. And bonus: It’s never too early to start focusing on your physical, mental and social well-being.
Participate in Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month
Though the entire month of June honors Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, June 20th celebrates The Longest Day. Marking the summer solstice — the day with the greatest amount of daylight — as a call to action for fighting the darkness of Alzheimer’s lets us join efforts through engaging programming, fundraising activities and more.
From exercise and games to crafts and companionship, the Alzheimer’s Association has thought of it all. And while in-person events may be held safely, virtual options abound, too.
Buddy up with our friends at Beacon Hill to honor those impacted by Alzheimer’s — and help fund research, too.
Life at Beacon Hill
When residents join our neighborhood, they enjoy a lifestyle with amenities and services to support their health journey at any stage. Whether joining us in Independent Living or progressing to Lilac, our memory care neighborhood, programming focuses on abilities rather than inabilities. From cooking to crafts to physical fitness, activities are designed for all levels.
If you or a loved one would like to learn more about how our community and team members at Beacon Hill support our residents through health changes, please contact us today.