It’s always a good idea to be informed. That’s why World Alzheimer’s Month in September is such an important observance.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting about 6 percent of people 65 and older. Although it may seem like just a typical disease for older people — it is, in fact, not a normal part of aging. Scientists don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s, but they suspect it’s a combination of many factors. The disease affects parts of the brain that control memory, thought, and language. There is no cure, but experts think that lowering blood pressure, exercising, and not smoking may reduce the risk. Let’s take a closer look at this event, and learn more about the disease.
World Alzheimer's Month - History
World Alzheimer's Day was first observed
Alzheimer Disease International, founded in 1984, announced the first World Alzheimer's Day, to be observed on September 21.
Alzheimer identified the first case
German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer identified the first case of what would later become known as Alzheimer's disease. The patient was a 50-year-old German woman.
Shakespeare wrote about it
In the late 1500s and early 1600s, William Shakespeare mentioned the loss of mental acuity in old age in some of his great plays, including "Hamlet" and "King Lear."
7th Century BC
Pythagoras spoke of "a human lifespan"
Greek philosopher Pythagoras described the later years of human life as the "senium," or a period of mental and physical decline.
How to Observe World Alzheimer's Month
1. Get involved
Many Alzheimer's organizations offer toolkits with which you can help spread the word. For example, you can print and distribute material.
2. Make a donation
There are several ways to contribute to Alzheimer's groups. You can donate monthly, or you can give a one-time gift in the name of someone you love with a so-called "tribute" donation.
3. Volunteer at an Alzheimer's event
Consider participating in an Alzheimer's "awareness walk." Perhaps you could volunteer to take part in a clinical trial. Find your local Alzheimer's chapter and see what you can do.
5 Important Facts About Alzheimer's Disease
1. It's a killer
About one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another type of dementia — more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
2. Deaths are increasing
Since 2000, deaths from Alzheimer's disease have increased by more than 120 percent.
3. Alzheimer's will affect more and more Americans
If current projections are accurate, by the year 2050, the number of Americans suffering from Alzheimer's disease will reach nearly 14 million.
4. Women are most likely to be affected
Statistics show that about two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's disease are women.
5. Hispanics are more susceptible
Statistics also show that Hispanics are about one-and-a-half times as likely to have Alzheimer's disease (or other dementias) as older, white, non-Hispanics.
Why World Alzheimer's Month is Important
A. Education is our best weapon
The only way to stay ahead of Alzheimer's is to arm ourselves with knowledge. That way we can take better care of ourselves and our loved ones in the hopes of preventing this disease.
B. It affects millions
In 2015, Alzheimer's resulted in the deaths of about 1.9 million people. It's one of the most costly diseases.
C. There is always hope
Although there is no known cure, there is always hope for a breakthrough. That's why it's so important to stay informed. World Alzheimer's Month is one big way to keep the conversation going.