Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month: Understanding the Brain Disease
Monday, June 01, 2020
An estimated 5.8 million older adults in the U.S. — nearly two-thirds of them women —have Alzheimer’s disease. The progressive brain disorder is the sixth leading cause of death in the nation. In New Jersey, the number of seniors with Alzheimer’s is expected to increase by 10.5% by 2025, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
The Alzheimer’s Association sponsors Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month to raise awareness of the disease and support for a cure. Throughout June, take time to learn the warning signs and ways to help people who help those affected and their caretakers.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. It is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who in 1906 found abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fibers in the brain of a woman who suffered memory loss, unpredictable behavior and problems using language before dying, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIH).
Those clumps he found are amyloid plaques and the tangled fibers tau tangles. They are two key features of the disease, along with lost connections between brain nerve cells. In people with Alzheimer’s disease, deposits of proteins form amyloid plaques and tau tangles throughout the brain. Neurons stop functioning and die.
What causes Alzheimer’s Disease?
That is not fully understood, but it’s believed that several factors are involved:
Age is the best known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease
Genetics likely plays a role
Evidence suggests risk factors for heart disease and stroke, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, may increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease
Serious head injuries are linked to future risk of Alzheimer’s
About 1 in 10 people over age 65 have the disease. Watch this four-minute video from the National Institute on Aging on how Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain.
Is there a cure?
Not yet, but there are treatments to slow memory loss and improve people’s quality of life. An early diagnosis may allow for more effective treatment. It also can help in maintaining healthy relationships between the person with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones because the cause of new behaviors is understood.
How would I recognize Alzheimer’s in myself or a loved one?
Misplacing things, and not being able to retrace their steps
Decreased or poor judgement
Withdrawal from work or social activities
Changes in mood or personality
Look for upcoming stories from NewBridge Services this month that address support for caregivers, ways to reduce your risk, and more.
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About NewBridge Services
NewBridge Services, a 501c(3) nonprofit, is a premier provider of counseling services, housing and educational programs in northern New Jersey serving 8,500 adults and seniors last year alone. NewBridge treats mental illnesses and addictions; teaches skills for coping with stress, grief and challenging relationships; builds and manages affordable housing; offers school-based programs that teach children and adolescents resiliency skills for healthy emotional development; helps young adults succeed in their education and prepare for careers; and supports seniors so they can remain independent. Throughout its more than 50-year history, NewBridge has remained true to its mission of bringing balance to people’s lives by tracking shifts in communities’ needs and providing innovative, effective programs to meet them.
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