When you think of June you may think of a lot of things, but Alzheimer’s and Brain Health may not be on the top of your mind. Personally June is a big month. We celebrate our wedding anniversary on the 26th. (32 years this year) We also celebrate our son’s birthday and my birthday too. Summer weather arrives. Roses are blooming. (They are my favorite, especially pink ones.) Summer vacation, well who knows this year.
But it is also an important month in terms of awareness topics. June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Brain health is a very important topic to me, and I would venture a guess, for you as well. But it may not be something we give a lot of thought to, until we or a loved one starts to experience cognitive issues. Then it might be all we think about.
How Many are Affected by Alzheimer’s?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, right now it is estimated that more than 5 million people in the US have Alzheimer’s Disease and that number is expected to rise to 14 million by 2050. This is a startling fact and prediction.
One take away that I have from this information is that if you are walking through this illness with a loved one, you are not alone. When we know we are not alone, we and our love one can benefit from the experience and expertise of others who have gone ahead of us in this journey. That is most likely small comfort, but we can learn how others have cared for their loved ones and we can better care for our loved ones.
Seeing both of my parents in their later years experience dementia, has made me determined to do what I can for me to avoid it, and share what I learn so others may find some answers. Medical experts hold varying opinions regarding what can or cannot be done to prevent Alzheimer’s and other dementia illnesses.
Some say that really nothing can be done. It is a genetic predisposition that leads to Alzheimer’s. On the other hand it has become more commonplace over the last few years that Alzheimer’s is referred to as Type 3 Diabetes, meaning Alzheimer’s is directly related to blood sugar levels in the blood and therefore preventable and, perhaps even treatable. Granted, this is as large of a range of opinions as possible.
Let’s Look at What the Experts Say
On the genetic predisposition side, according to this article, “Risk genes increase the likelihood of developing a disease but do not guarantee it will happen. Researchers have found several genes that increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. APOE-e4 is the first risk gene identified and remains the gene with strongest impact on risk. Researchers estimate that between 40 and 65 percent of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s have the APOE-e4 gene.”
On the other hand, Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist, advocates for changes in lifestyle factors and their impact on Alzheimer’s in his writing. Dr. Georgia Eade shares an in-depth view of studies and her clinical experience in her article in Psychology Today about how our lifestyle choices impact our risk.
Can implementing anti-inflammatory, insulin reducing, safe movement way of life overcome the effects of genetics? Have you heard of epigenetics? Epigenetics is a concept that genetic expression can be impacted by the inputs we bring to our body. Can we turn genes on and off? That is a great topic to explore. Scientist do concur that our DNA alone does not determine our destiny. Again, another topic for another day. But it is an encouraging possibility when we are talking Alzheimer’s and if there is something that can be done to prevent it. Drs. Perlmutter and Eade seem to say this can be the case. This possibility gives me hope.
I strongly suggest you check out the wealth of information available from the Alzheimer’s Association. The National Institutes of Health has a tremendous amount of information for you. Check out this video for an introduction.
We will spend much more time in June talking about Alzheimer’s and Dementia. we know that even if prevention is possible, millions are already impacted greatly by this disease. We will explore the support available for those who already have been diagnosed. Please join us.