June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, which is an opportunity to take action and join the fight against this fatal disease and other dementias.
President Ronald Regan designated June as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in 1983 – a time when there were less than 2 million people with the disease. Today, that number has grown to more than 5 million.
Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells.
Here are 3 things you should know about dementia.
1. Dementia is more than just memory loss.
Dementia includes memory, thinking and behavior problems.
Although most people associate dementia with memory loss, the condition affects people in a variety of ways. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, visual perception, reasoning and judgment and communication and language can also be impaired.
2. Dementia is not a natural part of aging.
Dementia is not a normal part of aging, but age is the biggest risk factor. Over 47 million people live with Alzheimer’s and other dementias worldwide.
People can still live well with dementia, and there are ways to help with symptoms. Fun activities, laughter and being active help engage the brain and grow new brain cells, which ultimately helps prevent dementia.
Proper nutrition is also important to keep the body strong and healthy. For a person with dementia, poor nutrition may increase behavioral symptoms and cause weight loss.
3. Lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of dementia.
Risk factors, such as high blood pressure and lack of exercise, usually can be changed to help reduce risk. Scientific research in these areas may lead to new ways to detect those at highest risk.
Regular physical exercise may be a beneficial strategy to lower the risk of vascular dementia. Good exercise choices including walking briskly, dancing, swimming, cycling and even gardening.
Heritage Woods of Minooka, an Assisted Lifestyle Community for the Older Adult, 701 Heritage Woods Drive, Minooka, IL, 60447, 815-467-2837, www.gardant.com/heritagewoodsminooka