September is World Alzheimer’s Month and the 21st is World Alzheimer’s Day. This month is aimed at raising awareness and challenging the stigma around the disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive dementia and most common form of dementia. Dementia is a general term for conditions caused by brain injuries or diseases that negatively affect memory, thinking and behavior that disrupt a person’s ability to function independently.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80 percent of dementia cases with the majority being 65 and older. If it’s diagnosed before then, it’s referred to as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Experts haven’t determined a single cause, but some risk factors include family history and genetics.

Signs and Symptoms

Everyone’s brain changes over time as you age, but it’s important to understand that Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. Knowing the difference between normal forgetfulness and Alzheimer’s symptoms is crucial. The earlier you’re diagnosed and seek help, the better chance you have of delaying the onset of more debilitating symptoms and maximizing your quality of life.

These symptoms can include:

  • Memory loss affecting daily activities, such as an ability to keep appointments
  • Trouble with familiar tasks
  • Difficulties with problem-solving
  • Trouble with speech or writing
  • Becoming disoriented about times or places
  • Decreased judgment
  • Mood and personality changes
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and community

Preventative Steps for Alzheimer’s

Just like there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are no guaranteed preventive measures. However, researchers have strong evidence that an overall healthy lifestyle may play a role in preventing cognitive decline.

The following measures may help:

  • Quit smoking
  • Take care of your heart
  • Exercise regularly
  • Try cognitive training exercises
  • Eat a plant-based diet
  • Maintain an active social life
  • Manage stress

Be sure to talk with your doctor before making any big lifestyle changes.

The Takeaway

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s is very common, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s is the sixth most common cause of death among U.S. adults. But, there is no single expected outcome for people with Alzheimer’s. Some people live a long time with mild cognitive damage, while others experience a quicker disease progression. The key is understanding the signs and getting diagnosed early so you can take the necessary steps to delay symptoms and improve quality of life.

Learn more by visiting Alzheimer’s Association TN.