World Alzheimer’s Day is observed every year on 21st September. In fact the month of September is known as World Alzheimer’s Month. It is believed that nearly 44 million people worldwide live with the disease. It therefore becomes essential to share information, understand risk factors and comprehend prevention measures. HERD Foundation is spreading awareness and inspiring people to make positive changes in their lives to ward off the onset of Alzheimer’s.
The disease, named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, was detected in 1906, when he noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who died of mental illness. Her symptoms had been memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After her death her brain was investigated to reveal many abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fibers that are now medically known as amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, respectively.
Alzheimer’s is actually a form of dementia that is largely incurable. People diagnosed with it may really exhibit few symptoms initially but as the disease progresses it gets more debilitating. The plaques and tangles in the brain are essentially two of the main features of Alzheimer’s disease. The third is the loss of connections between nerve cells or neurons in the brain. Although treatment may help manage symptoms there is actually no cure for this devastating disease.
The disease increasingly makes one suffer from loss of cognitive functioning. It impairs thinking, remembering and reasoning and also affects the behavioral abilities to an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. This ranges in severity from mild stages to most severe stage that makes the patient completely dependent on others for basic daily living. Thus this neurological disorder ends in death of brain cells causing memory loss and cognitive decline.
The neurodegenerative dementia happens over a course of time, when the total brain size shrinks and the brain tissue progressively has fewer nerve cells and connections. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually even the ability to carry out simplest tasks. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear after age 60. Foods like walnuts, flax seeds, salmon and soybeans are high in omega-3’s that help you keep your brain healthy. Be sure to eat them in moderation.
The disease is equally challenging for the patient as it is for family members. Worse still are stigma and misconceptions surrounding the disease that need to be addressed. People with dementia feel disconnected not only from society but also from their own friends and family. This distancing further creates barriers to progress. Reports state that 40 percent of people with dementia have experienced being avoided or treated differently because of the diagnosis of the disease.
Here’s how one can reduce risk of developing Alzheimer’s:
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Eat a well-balanced diet with plentiful fruit and vegetables
- Keep your mind active and busy
- Do regular physical exercise
- Get plenty of good quality sleep
- Follow your treatment guidelines if you have a chronic disease, such as diabetes
- Maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels
- Control your blood pressure
- Indulge in memory games, stay organized and be active
- Don’t smoke or drink alcohol