As many of you may know, June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness month. Several, if not most of us, have had our lives touched in some way by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Whether in loving and supporting a family member or relative living with dementia, or knowing a close friend who is caring for a parent, spouse or partner, many of us have a personal connection to the disease and its unique challenges. Even with a connection, however, there are a few facts about Alzheimer’s and dementia that may be surprising:
Dementia in and of itself is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a group of symptoms that are severe enough to interfere with daily living activities. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, and can co-exist with other forms of irreversible dementias.
Alzheimer’s and dementia are not a normal part of aging. Memory often changes as we grow older. But memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging, and is something you should discuss with your physician.
Dementia is caused by damage and death of brain cells. This degeneration of the brain causes disruptions in memory, cognition, personality, and ability to function.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other irreversible dementias. Although there are medications available that may possibly treat symptoms, they do not stop the progression of the disease.
Alzheimer’s is a growing epidemic. Worldwide, 50 million people are believed to be living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
More than 5.8 million Americans now have Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. This number is projected to reach over 15 million by 2050.
Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops dementia.
Each day, thousands of families are forever changed by this disease.
The Alzheimer’s Association has declared June to be Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, a month set aside to raise awareness for diseases that affect the brain. While many events are postponed in this particular season, there are still several ways to show your support throughout the month and make a positive impact. Here are just a few!
1. Wear Purple on June 20
The Longest Day is the day with the most light — the summer solstice. On June 20, people from across the world fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s through a favorite activity of their choice. Although participation in The Longest Day may be a little different this year due to social distancing, there are still plenty of fun things you can do at home to engage friends, family and even coworkers virtually. Simply find something you love doing and utilize it to raise funds or awareness for Alzheimer’s and dementia related research. If organizing an event is just not possible right now, that’s okay! You can still wear purple to show your love and support.
2. Show Support on Social Media
With so many individuals fighting this disease across the world, most of us have stories on how dementia has touched our lives, and the life of someone we love. Share your story on social media using the hashtag #ENDALZ or #iwearpurple or #arrowstrong. Decorate your workspace, yard, or home in purple and post your photos on social media. Utilize the Arrow purple Facebook frame to raise awareness throughout the month.
3. Join Your Arrow Community Team for the Walk to End Alzheimer's
A Walk to End Alzheimer’s is held in hundreds of cities and towns around the country each year in the fall. Ask the Resident Services Director in your community for information on how to join your Community’s walk team.
4. Care for the Caregivers in Your Life
Even if you aren’t a caregiver yourself, chances are you may know someone who is. Be intentional this month to reach out; ask for tangible and practical ways you can be a comfort and support to them as they provide care for loved ones fighting dementia. Dropping off a meal, their favorite beverage, or sending a caring text or card are wonderful ways to show your love and support.
5. Connect and Volunteer
Although it may not be possible right now, be thinking of ways you can volunteer your time and friendship in your community’s Memory Care neighborhood. Relationships are a vital, life-giving part of care for individuals living with dementia. There are many ways you can make a difference – reading aloud, listening to music together, being a mealtime companion, sharing conversation in the sunshine are just a few ways you can engage individuals or groups in Memory Care. No experience necessary – a caring heart is all that you need.
6. Create a Photo Book
Creating a photo book, or “memory book” can be a wonderful family project or gift to a family that you love. This is a wonderful, tangible way for individuals with dementia and their care partners to connect to long-term memories and share meaningful moments together.
7. Attend an Educational Event
Knowledge is not only power, it is also care. Help and support the people in your community and attend one of our Arrow Memory Care Support Group calls or education events to learn more about Alzheimer’s and dementia. The more you know, the more help and support you can offer.
8. Practice Self-Care
One of the best ways to honor those living with dementia is by committing to a healthy lifestyle. As we learn more about Alzheimer’s, we are finding that prevention is key. Eating healthy foods, rest, exercising, and limiting/managing stress are all excellent ways to potentially prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Let’s join together as communities throughout this month to honor, love, and support not only those living with dementia but their families as well. If your life is personally touched by this disease, we are here for you.