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June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month
This June, join the Sussex County Division of Health, Office of Public Health Nursing and the Sussex Warren Chronic Disease Coalition in acknowledging the importance of brain awareness.
Alzheimer's disease can affect anyone and it is the sixth leading cause of death among U.S. adults. It is a disease that kills nerve cells and tissue in the brain, which affects a person's ability to remember, think and communicate. This involves parts of the brain that control memory, thought and language. Brain cells continue to die with the progression of the disease, which shrinks the brain over time.
It is still unknown what exactly causes Alzheimer's disease, but several factors affect individuals' risks differently. This is what is known about the disease:
- Age is the best known risk factor
- Family history and genetics may have a role in developing the disease
- Changes in the brain can occur before symptoms are present
- Scientists are looking into the effects of education, diet, environment, heart disease and stroke on the development of Alzheimer's
- There is growing evidence that physical, mental and social activities may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging, but it is estimated that over 50 million people are living with Alzheimer's and other dementias worldwide. Memory problems are usually one of the first signs of cognitive loss. Other signs include:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Trouble handling money and paying bills
- Difficulty completing familiar, daily tasks
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Misplacing things and forgetting where they are
- Changes in mood, personality or behaviors
Brain health is important for everyday functioning. Adopting certain healthy habits can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and can keep your body and brain healthy (Alzheimer's Association).
- Break a sweat - regular exercise brings many health benefits, including brain health
- Hit the books - education at any stage of life improves cognitive function
- Butt out - quitting smoking can reduce the risk of mental decline
- Follow your heart - risk factors for heart disease and stroke negatively impact your brain
- Heads up - prevent brain injuries by wearing a helmet and seatbelt when necessary
- Eat right - eating a balanced diet can improve health in many ways
- Catch some zzz's - not getting enough sleep can negatively affect thinking and memory
- Take care of your mental health - try to manage stress and seek help for depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns
- Buddy up - staying socially engaged can support brain health
- Stump yourself - challenge and activate your mind with artistic activities, games or puzzles
Preventing and enhancing treatment of cognitive decline can improve lives and health. Opportunities for maintaining an individual's optimal brain function and health are growing.
DON'T MISS! On Friday, June 21, 2019 - the summer solstice - people around the world will be observing The Longest Day, a fundraising and awareness event through the Alzheimer's Association. This is a way to fight the darkness of Alzheimer's. Participate by doing an exercise or sports activity, play a game, engage in a meaningful hobby or the arts or hold your own party or event. Learn more here: http://act.alz.org/site/TR?fr_id=11896&pg=entry .