November 1, 2010

State of Alabama
Press Release: Mental Health, Department of

NOVEMBER IS NATIONAL ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AWARENESS MONTH

ADMH seeks to educate Alabamians about Alzheimer’s disease

MONTGOMERY – Currently, more than 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, making it the 7th leading cause of death in America. More than seven in ten people with Alzheimer’s disease live at home, where almost 75 percent of their care is provided by family members and friends. That is why the Alabama Department of Mental Health wants to educate Alabamians about Alzheimer’s disease during November to help promote National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.

This month-long campaign sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association, a voluntary health organization leading Alzheimer’s research and support, is designed to raise public awareness and understanding about Alzheimer’s and issue facing individuals with the disease, as well as their families. Alzheimer's is brain disease that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 50 to 70 percent of dementia cases.

According to a recent op-ed piece in The New York Times, starting January 1, 2011, 79 million baby boomers will turn 65 at a rate of one every eight seconds. That is more than four million per year. In the piece, Alzheimer’s experts and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor state that if scientists could delay onset of the disease by five years, via better drugs, the United States could keep much fewer Alzheimer's patients from needing nursing homes.

Although there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, Dr. Richard Powers, medical director for ADMH, urges all persons to consider lifestyle choices that protect memory and the brain. Untreated metabolic syndrome, which includes diabetes, hypertension, elevated cholesterol and obesity, may increase the risk for having memory loss or Alzheimer’s and dementia later in life. Efforts to curb these common medical conditions early probably benefit the brain later in life. Exercise has been shown to be helpful in protecting memory loss as well as has good diet and intellectual stimulation. Powers states, “Protecting your brain seems to be a safe, prudent way to increase your likelihood of getting older and keeping all of those important memories you’ve made along the way.”

RESOURCES

The Alzheimer’s Association’s Web site, www.alz.org, provides helpful resources such as a list of the risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s, as well as warning signs of the disease.

ADMH has an entire website devoted to the prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s for all persons along with specific information for persons of African-American heritage at www.alzbrain.org.

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