November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, a time to learn more about the most common cause of dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disorder that irreversibly affects the health of the brain, causing a decline in memory, reasoning and the ability to handle everyday tasks.
Dementia is a collective term to describe a group of diseases and symptoms of cognitive decline.
Alzheimer’s disease is the fifth-leading cause of death for adults 65 years and older, and the sixth-leading cause of death for all adults.
The greatest known risk factor is increasing age. While Alzheimer’s disease typically occurs in those 65 or older, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, a rarer form, can develop within the age ranges of 30-60.
Alzheimer’s disease occurs in stages and worsens over time. Some warning signs include:
• Changes in memory that disrupt everyday activities;
• Confusion with time or place;
• Alterations in personality; and
• Difficulty having conversations.
The cause of Alzheimer’s disease remains unknown.
There is no definitive treatment for preventing or slowing the disease. However, research shows maintaining healthy lifestyles with social activity and through intellectual stimulation helps with aging and brain health.
In 2017, the Postal Service introduced a semipostal stamp to raise funding for Alzheimer’s disease research.
The National Institute on Aging and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites have resources to support families and caregivers, while the Wellness LiteBlue page has overall health information.