Host of Activities Planned for Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

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by Mary Chapman |

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Dementia

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Scores of efforts to mark June’s Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month are designed to raise funds and visibility around the degenerative brain disease and related disorders, and the estimated 50 million people worldwide thought to be affected.

Across the United States, patients, caregivers, and advocates will “go purple” — the official color of the Alzheimer’s movement — and share stories, raise funds, contact policymakers, post on social media platforms, show photos, host lectures and discussions, and take part in walks to end Alzheimer’s.

According to Unicity Eldercare, which specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care, every three seconds someone in the world develops dementia. Alzheimer’s accounts for most of those cases. The number of people with the disease is expected to reach 135 million worldwide by 2050, according to Unity Eldercare.

This year, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the United States $290 billion, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. More than 16 million U.S. residents act as unpaid caregivers for these patients.

The Alzheimer’s Association, the organization driving most of this month’s efforts, is asking supporters to become an advocate, volunteer, or donate to support research and patient programs. Follow @alzassociation on Twitter and Instagram to stay apprised of ways to take action, or contact a local chapter.

Coinciding with Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month is The Longest Day. On June 21 — summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the day with the most light — advocates will counter the darkness of Alzheimer’s with activities aimed at raising funds and awareness. To take part, register here.

The association suggests selecting a favorite activity and turning it into a fundraiser. Such activities can include exercise, games, hobbies, sports, parties, or arts. Organizers will help registrants with tools and tips including posters, fliers, and email templates. Use the hashtags #TheLongestDay and #ENDALZ when sharing stories or fundraisers across social media.

The Illinois chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is hosting events on topics including “The 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s,” “Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body,” “Effective Communication Strategies,” “Dementia Conversations,” “Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia,” “Understanding and Responding to Dementia-related Behavior,” and “The Savvy Caregiver.” Go here for a full listing and more information.

The chapter is also promoting ways to “love your brain” such as engaging in cardiovascular exercise, quitting smoking, protecting the brain by wearing a seatbelt or helmet when appropriate, taking steps to prevent falls, getting enough sleep, being socially engaged, participating in activities that challenge and activate the brain, taking classes at a college or community center, taking care of cardiovascular issues (heart function is related to brain health), maintaining a healthy diet, and treating or managing depression and stress.

The city of Livingston, New Jersey, is in its second year of “Painting the Town Purple.” This year, the effort will include other towns, including Caldwell, Roxbury, Red Bank,  and Tenafly. Cheryl Ricci-Francione, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater New Jersey, told tapinto.net that 200,000 people living with Alzheimer’s or related dementia live in New Jersey.

“We have to research until we fund a cure, and we have to provide care and support for the families who struggle with this disease and struggle with hope, because they need that hope to know that future generations in their families won’t go through the same struggle,” she said.

On its website, Unicity Eldercare is observing the month by listing key facts, noting that only 45 percent of patients are told of their diagnosis by their physicians. This prevents patients, most of whom are senior citizens, from getting early treatment, the company says. Another fact is that in the United States, Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death. New Jersey-based Unicity has also posted an article about the difference between age-related memory loss and Alzheimer’s.

In the state of Washington, which has the nation’s third-highest Alzheimer’s death rate, the government has officially proclaimed June as Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. Elsewhere, alzheimers.net suggests more ways to get involved, including having children spend time coloring with patients, hosting a “Hilarity for Charity” awareness-raising event, and registering for the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Go to alz.org to find other ways to make a difference this month.

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