June marks Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month where many will wear the color purple in support of the disease that affects over 5 million loved ones.
We’ve all heard someone make the joke: “I can’t find my keys, it’s my Alzheimer’s moment.” Many believe the disease is about being forgetful.
When in fact, it is a disease of the brain where the brain degenerates. This progressive brain disease takes away thinking skills and destroys memory.
Alzheimer’s and brain-related diseases have some harsh statistics:
- 44 million are living with Alzheimer’s Disease
- 2/3 of Americans with the disease are women
- The 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.
- Kills more people than breast and prostate cancer combined
- 5th leading cause of death for those over the age of 65
The diseases of the brain are being diagnosed at record rates affecting millions of people.
The month of June is dedicated to Brain Awareness Month. During this time, many work to raise funds and awareness about the cause.
Recognize Stages of Alzheimer’s
This is a tricky disease that doesn’t follow a straight path as it progresses. How one patient gets symptoms and progresses may be completely different than another.
Alzheimer’s Awareness Month works to make people aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease. Many will even miss the early 7 stages of the disease.
These stages are about cognitive function and memory. Often the early signs of the disease are waved off as getting older, being tired, or being simply forgetful.
By the time a patient is reaching the 4th or 5th step, it is likely the effects of the disease become more obvious. Patients start to lose their ability to handle activities of daily life (ADL). More constant care becomes necessary as the patient progresses through the steps.
Take Care of Your Brain
Part of the research of this disease centers on prevention. While there is not a clear answer about if it can be prevented, there are some factors to consider.
It seems the disease has some connection to risk factors like age, genetics, environment, lifestyle and coexisting medical conditions. There are some studies that show a real connection between head trauma and the later development of Alzheimer’s.
The connection between Alzheimer’s and other medical issues is also a factor. Patients with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol, show a higher rate of Alzheimer’s.
As part of Brain Awareness Month, people learn about things they can do to keep their brain healthy and reduce the risk of these brain diseases.
There seems to be good evidence to show that a healthy diet and exercise help the brain. Certainly, they help your cardiovascular system, so it makes sense that healthy eating and regular exercise will offer benefits to prevention.
Many studies show the value in working your brain intellectually. Having a mentally active brain and maintaining social connections offers real benefits for prevention too.
Purple for Awareness
Purple is the color of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. The Alzheimer’s Association encourages people to use the color purple to raise awareness about this disease.
This can be something as simple as having a wear purple day at work. Some have had fundraisers with a ‘Go Purple’ menu for breakfast and lunch. Serve up blueberry yogurt, pancakes. Serve fresh fruit with blackberries, blueberries, and plums.
Go public on your social media pages by turning your profile purple. The Alzheimer’s Association offers profile frames you can use to turn Facebook purple in an effort to raise awareness.
Consider wearing purple on June 21st to help raise awareness.
Share Your Story
Also, during the month of June, people are encouraged to Share Your Story. This is a movement to share your experiences with the disease. The disease can be long and difficult and often lonely for caregivers and those affected.
The “Share Your Story” campaign encourages you to share your experiences with others going through it. You never know when your story will offer courage, peace or comfort to someone confronted with the disease.
The sharing of stories not only offers experiences but awareness too. Stories can come from those living with the disease, family, caregivers, medical professionals. The stories offer a shared experience that is powerful for someone else facing the disease.
When you “Share Your Story” on social media, use the hashtags #ENDALZ or #EndAlzheimers. This will help others find your story.
The Longest Day
Alzheimer’s Disease is referred to as the long goodbye because of the slow nature of the way the disease progresses. It can be painful for family and loved ones to watch the slow deterioration caused by the disease.
June 21st is the summer solstice and also the longest day of the year. The Alzheimer’s Association encourages you to help raise money and awareness through The Longest Day Campaign.
There are endless ways to support this cause. The Alzheimer’s Association encourages you to do something any day in the month of June if you can’t partake specifically on June 21st.
Choose an activity that you like and turn it into a fundraiser. The big idea here is that you take the longest day of the year and do something for this disease that is often the long goodbye.
Join the Movement for Brain Awareness Month
June is Brain Awareness Month for those brain-related diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. So many people and their loved ones are being affected by these tragic diseases.
Consider some ways you can get involved during the month to raise awareness. Wear purple on June 21, Share Your Story or participate in the Longest Day events through the Alzheimer’s Association.
You can learn more related health issues and their treatments by visiting our blog.