September is Dementia Awareness Month and 21st September is World Alzheimer’s Day. This year’s theme ‘Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s’ highlights the need to reach out to people with dementia in their community to let them know they are not alone. Dementia is second leading cause of death and the leading cause of death among females. There are many ways you can become involved in Dementia Awareness Month to show your support. Don’t face dementia alone. Alzheimer’s Disease diagnoses are growing at an exponential rate, and treating it is one of the costliest efforts. Early detection not only improves quality of life, but also can massively reduce the costs associated with treating Alzheimer’s Disease. It is only through a truly global effort that we can raise much needed awareness and challenge the stigma and misinformation that still surrounds dementia, and we are calling on everyone to do something during September, however small or large.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia: A general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80 per cent of dementia cases.
Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging: The greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. Alzheimer’s disease is considered to be younger-onset Alzheimer’s if it affects a person under 65. Younger-onset can also be referred to as early-onset Alzheimer’s. People with younger-onset Alzheimer’s can be in the early, middle or late stage of the disease.
Alzheimer's worsens over time: Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. On average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives 4 to 8 years after diagnosis but can live as long as 20 years, depending on other factors.
Alzheimer’s has no cure, but one treatment - Aducanumab (Aduhelm) — is the first therapy to demonstrate that removing amyloid, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, from the brain is reasonably likely to reduce cognitive and functional decline in people living with early Alzheimer’s. Other treatments can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer's and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort underway to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset and prevent it from developing.
As the exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is still unknown, there's no certain way to prevent the condition. But a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk. The research concluded that by modifying all the risk factors we're able to change, our risk of dementia could be significantly reduced.
Cardiovascular disease has been linked with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. You may be able to reduce your risk of developing these conditions – as well as other serious problems, such as strokes and heart attacks – by taking steps to improve your cardiovascular health. These include:
• reduce smoking.
• keeping alcohol to a minimum.
• eating a healthy, balanced diet, including at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
• exercising for at least 150 minutes every week by doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as cycling or fast walking), or as much as you're able to.
• making sure your blood pressure is checked and controlled through regular health tests.
• if you have diabetes, make sure you keep to the diet and take your medicine.
There's some evidence to suggest that rates of dementia are lower in people who remain mentally and socially active throughout their lives. It may be possible to reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia by:
• learning foreign languages.
• playing musical instruments.
• volunteering in your local community.
• taking part in group sports, such as bowling.
• trying new activities or hobbies.
• maintaining an active social life.
• Interventions such as "brain training" computer games have been shown to improve cognition over a short period, but research has not yet demonstrated whether this can help prevent dementia.
The latest research suggests that other factors are also important, although this does not mean
these factors are directly responsible for causing dementia.
• hearing loss.
• untreated depression (although this can also be a symptom of dementia).
• loneliness or social isolation.
• a sedentary lifestyle.