World Alzheimer’s Month and the Impact of Wellness
Emily B., B.S. Health Promotion and Wellness, Lifestyle Consultant, Livea
Most of us know someone in our lives that have been impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. It could be someone in your family, a family friend, neighbor, community member or someone you were close to. The month of September is known as World Alzheimer’s month with September 21st being World Alzheimer’s Day. Many people still wrongly believe that dementia is normal aging. This alone shows how important increasing public knowledge around this disease is.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurologic disorder that causes the brain to shrink and brain cells to die3. The neurons in the brain that are damaged first are in the parts of the brain responsible for memory, language and thinking. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia – a continuous decline in thinking behavioral and social skills that affects a person’s ability to function independently3. More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s currently and by 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 13 million (alz.org). Alzheimer’s is not just memory loss; it is usually fatal. 1 in 3 seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. It kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined (alz.org).
How Does Alzheimer’s Affect the Brain?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, a healthy brain has about 100 billion neurons with long, branching extensions that allow individual neurons to form connections with other neurons. Information flows through these neurons to create the cellular basis of memories, thoughts, sensations, emotions, movements, and skills2. Alzheimer’s disease disrupts the communication between neurons which results in loss of function and cell death. This happens when protein plaques cluster together and tau proteins tangle together1. The result is a toxic effect on neurons and disruption of the signal transport system1. Eventually, neurons die, and the brain shrinks significantly. Over time, Alzheimer’s has such an affect on a person they are unable to live and function independently.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Alzheimer’s?
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease will vary from person to person. The list below includes the most common signs and symptoms seen from an individual with Alzheimer’s.