This June for Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, everyone should take time to learn more about brain health.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 6 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s and 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia.
In Cambria County, the Department of Health reports that from 2015-2019 the Alzheimer’s death rate is 25.7 per 100,000 people, which is higher than the state average of 21.2 deaths per 100,000. In Somerset County, the report shows that 37.5 Alzheimer’s deaths occur per 100,000. Somerset County is also higher than the state average.
Alzheimer’s affects memory, thinking, and behavior. Over time, symptoms will grow severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. 10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “it’s never too late or too early to incorporate healthy habits.” As more research is done, evidence suggests that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by participating in healthy habits, including:
- Regular cardiovascular exercise
- Formal education, like taking a class at a local college, community center, or online
- Quitting smoking
- Take care of your heart
- Avoid brain injuries, like wearing a seat belt, using a helmet, and take steps to prevent falls
- Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet
- Get enough sleep
- Take care of your mental health
- Stay socially engaged with friends and family
- Challenge and activate your mind with puzzles or playing games
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, there is help. The Alzheimer’s Association has a 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900.
For the Cambria and Somerset counties, the Greater Pennsylvania Chapter is the “local” chapter. For more information on the local chapter, visit https://www.alz.org/pa?set=1.