June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month
The number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease continues to rise. Being aware of Alzheimer’s and its affects on those who live with it is important. Awareness of caregiver health is also especially relevant to the Alzheimer’s experience.
Alzheimer’s by the Numbers*
- 5.7 million Americans have Alzheimer’s.
- 16 million Americans are caregivers for people who live with Alzheimer’s.
- Two-thirds of people living with Alzheimer’s are women.
- 1 in 10 adults over age 65 has Alzheimer’s.
- $341,840 is the approximate average cost of care for people living with dementia.
- In the last 15 years, the rate of Alzheimer’s diagnosis’ have risen 123%.
* Statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association.
How Alzheimer’s Care is Evolving
Billions of dollars have been invested world-wide in the effort to cure Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, scientists have yet to discover a cure. In fact, most Alzheimer’s researchers do not believe a cure will be identified in the next 10 years.
Today, scientific research is focused on delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s. Promising discoveries are being made in the identification of biomarkers. Additionally, there are several newer, non-drug based therapies that help people living with Alzheimer’s. These include:
- Memory Fitness. All eight Era Living communities offer a Memory Fitness program. It is for people with early stage Alzheimer’s and dementia. The program helps residents through the establishment of a consistent routine, through social engagement, and with group dining experiences.
- Virtual reality. Virtual reality offers a respite from the emotional effects of dementia. Tech companies have discovered that virtual reality helps people with Alzheimer’s through reminiscence therapy. The therapy allows people living with Alzheimer’s to connect to earlier times and memories they can access.
- Music & Memory. This program empowers emotion. Music lights up many parts of the brain. It triggers an emotional response. And, music is an excellent tool for connecting with people with all stages of Alzheimer’s. The Gardens at Town Square was the first retirement community in King County to offer the Music & Memory program.
Prolonging Brain Health
An Alzheimer’s diagnosis may not be avoidable. But, research shows that healthy habits can help prolong cognitive health and support brain plasticity.
- Physical exercise promotes brain function. Fitness activities pump blood to the brain and up growth hormone levels.
- Mental stimulation builds cognitive reserves. Through social engagement and learning activities that require right and left brain integration, the brain stays healthy longer.
- Reducing stress levels encourages neurogenesis. Need to lower your stress level? Try meditation, intentional breathing, light stretching, even massage.
- Nutritional methods, like the Mediterranean Diet, are associated with decreasing your risk of cognitive decline. Many scientists attribute this to the consumption of healthy fats and fiber.
- Coffee! Moderate doses of caffeine might be connected to better brain health. So, please do not feel guilty about cranking up your coffee maker and just drink that second cup.
Recognizing the Impact of Alzheimer’s
The Alzheimer’s Association holds its Longest Day fundraiser on June 21, or the Summer Solstice each year. For the Longest Day, people come together through shared activities to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association.
In turn, the Alzheimer’s Association funds Alzheimer’s research. It also advocates for the needs and rights of people affected by Alzheimer’s. Additionally, it provides emotional support to people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.