During the month of June, many will wear purple to shine a light on Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Despite being the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, Alzheimer’s disease is still largely misunderstood. For that reason, in 2014, the Alzheimer’s Association® declared June Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. Worldwide, the organization reports there are at least 44 million people who live with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. As we are all too aware, those numbers are only expected to grow.

Often thought of as simple memory loss, Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease that kills nerve cells and tissue in the brain, affecting a person’s ability to remember, think, and plan. As it progresses, the brain shrinks due to loss of cells. As a result, individuals lose the ability to communicate, recognize family and friends, and care for themselves.

Scientists continue in their search to find treatments for the disease and others like it — dementia, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and more. In the meantime, learning more about these diseases and how to improve overall brain health is essential.

Did you know?
-In 2016, more than 15 million Americans gave 18 billion hours of their time, unpaid, to care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
-Many people take on an extra job or postpone retirement in order to become a caregiver.
-Alzheimer’s disease is not normal aging. It is a progressive brain disease with no known cure.
-Alzheimer’s disease is more than memory loss. It appears through a variety of signs and symptoms.

What can you do for better brain health?
According to Cleveland Clinic, the following “brain-healthy behaviors” can help:

-Exercise at least three to five times per week.
-Engage in hobbies like puzzles, games, or other mental stimulation.
-Sleep for six hours or more per night.
-Connect with family and friends, and be sure to socialize regularly.

For more information on the above behaviors, visit ClevelandClinic.org. To learn more specifics on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, visit Alz.org.

Sources:
“6 Ways to Maintain Your Brain Health.” Health Essentials. Cleveland Clinic, 25 Aug. 2015. Web. 23 May 2017.
“Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.” Healthy Brains. Cleveland Clinic, 16 June 2016. Web. 23 May 2017.