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Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

Last month, June, was Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month – you may have seen some information about it on social media. I wanted to add to those voices before everyone moved on.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80% of dementia cases, it affects over 5.5 million Americans. Alzheimer’s is one of those diseases that is all to common, most of us either have someone close to us with the disease or know someone whose loved one has Alzheimer’s. It has a huge affect on our nation because it requires caregivers with enormous patience, it lasts a long time, has no cure and is one of the nation’s costliest diseases. It is estimated that it will cost our nation over 300 billion dollars this year and the cost is going up. This cost doesn’t even figure in the cost to society of unpaid caregivers. While the death rate of other diseases has fallen . . . the death rate of heart disease, the most common cause of death, has fallen 11% . . . the death rate from Alzheimer’s has risen 123% between 2000 and 2015. Alzheimer’s impacts us all, personally and financially.

So, you might ask, “why haven’t we found a cure? It is obvious that we should be working day and night on a cure for this disease.” Well, we have, but it has been rough going. Alzheimer’s is a complicated and multifaceted disease. There have been many promising medicines that have been tested and failed, some of the failures coming at the very end of the clinical trials. It has been heartbreaking to those impacted by Alzheimer’s to have hope and then be disappointed.

Scientists have identified that plaque buildup in the brain seems to be common in those with Alzheimer’s. They have also discovered that a vital brain cell transport system collapses when a certain protein twists into microscopic fibers called tangles. These discoveries have given hints to the cause, but a solution has been elusive. While there have been medicines created that treat some of the symptoms, there is still no cure. But there is hope. Scientists have joined forces by forming the Coalition Against Major Diseases (CAMD), an alliance of pharmaceutical companies, nonprofit foundations and government advisers, that have forged a first-of-its-kind partnership to share data from Alzheimer’s clinical trials. It will take a combined effort like this to tackle this terrible disease.

As a country we need to ensure that our government allows coalitions like this the freedom to pursue a cure for Alzheimer’s. My math says an Alzheimer’s cure could save our nation 3 trillion dollars over 10 years, to say nothing of the impact on the millions of patients and caregivers whose lives are devastated by this disease.

In these times of isolation my sincere thanks goes to those in the Alzheimer’s units throughout the country who have stayed on the front lines, often at the risk of their own health, to care for the millions of Alzheimer’s patients. Find out more about Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month by going to this website. You might also try wearing a nice-looking purple outfit in hopes that someone will ask you about it and you can tell them about Alzheimer’s and the importance of finding a cure.

In the meantime, stay safe and be joyful.


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Make sure your summer is full of fun with these tips!

On June 2, the Wall Street Journal highlighted some interesting new research that found seniors who engage in fun, social activities are happier and less likely to develop dementia later on in life.  Similarly, at every age, staying active and interacting with others are two essential components for good health. With that in mind, I’ve provided a few fun and healthy ways for you to stay active with your friends and family this summer!

The heat of July and August can be oppressive, but early morning and late evening are excellent times to be outside, if the midday sun is just too much. But no matter what time you go outside, Tip Number 1 is “Don’t forget the sunscreen!”

Any outside activity is great when you like doing it – especially if you are doing it with others. So Tip Number 2 is “Either go someplace where people are doing an activity you want to do, or invite people to join you when you are doing something you enjoy.” Whether your pleasure is taking a walk, planting a garden, playing golf, or floating down a lazy river, it’s more fun when you can share.

Many of us, as we have aged, have moved away from the neighborhoods we lived in for decades. This puts the burden on us to make new friends and identify places to go for fun and recreation. It may not be easy but it really is important.  Churches, senior centers, community recreation facilities, libraries, and your local newspaper all contain dozens of resources about places to go, things to do, and people wanting to do them. Tip Number 3 is “Do your homework and find things to do that interest you.”

If outside activities are not your thing, there still are lots of things you can do inside (in the air conditioning!) that are fun and will keep you moving. So, Tip Number 4 is “Don’t limit yourself about where you look for something to do.”  One of the most fun things I’ve done recently was to go bowling with my grandkids. I don’t think I’ve been bowling in more than a decade. Surely, no one was more surprised than I was when I bowled a strike! Moreover, I jumped up and down in excitement so many times that I’m sure that counts as some of my daily exercise!

Remember, whether you enjoy swimming, playing yard games, golfing, bowling, or playing tennis, these sort of activities can actually improve all facets of your life.  I hope you will try your hand at some new activity this summer.  Be sure to let us know how you plan to get active and enjoy yourself this summer on Facebook and Twitter!