June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

What You Need to Know During Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and it’s important to know about this devastating disease and how it impacts Americans every day. Alzheimer’s is one type of dementia, which is “a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.”

Alzheimer’s causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior which can start slowly and get worse over time. It is also a very common form of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases. Alzheimer’s is not just a normal part of aging, but is rather a degenerative disease of the brain.

The Exercise and Alzheimer’s Connection

While we don’t know for sure, it appears that exercise has many benefits for the brain, which extends to those dealing with different forms of dementia. According to the Mayo Clinic, “studies show that people who are physically active are less likely to experience a decline in their mental function, have a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and possibly have improved thinking among people with vascular cognitive impairment.”

Exercising several times a week for 30 to 60 minutes may:

  • Keep thinking, reasoning and learning skills sharp for healthy individuals
  • Improve memory, reasoning, judgment and thinking skills (cognitive function) for people with mild Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment
  • Delay the start of Alzheimer’s for people at risk of developing the disease or slow the progress of the disease

More research is needed to know to what degree adding physical activity improves memory or slows the progression of cognitive decline. Nonetheless, regular exercise is important to stay physically and mentally fit.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

This disease progresses in stages, ranging from relatively mild symptoms to full-blown cognitive impairment. According to the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, these are the symptoms one can expect to experience:

1. Pre-Dementia Phase

• No obvious symptoms

2. Mild Cognitive Impairment

• Mild forgetfulness that interferes with daily activities
• Trouble remembering events or activities
• Trouble remembering names of familiar people or things

3. Early to Moderate Stage Dementia

• Change in personality
• Loss of insight
• Loss of ability to do simple tasks like brushing teeth or combing hair
• Failure to recognize familiar people and places
• Trouble speaking, understanding, reading and/or writing
• May become anxious, aggressive—disoriented and confused
• Become increasingly unaware of personal limitations

4. Late Stage Dementia

• Greater confusion and disorientation
• Complete dependency on others
• Physical health deteriorates due to inactivity
• Death is usually due to pneumonia or other infections

To learn more about this disease and what you can do to help, visit the Alzheimer’s Assocation website.


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