Think back to your school days. Remember the anticipation that arrived on the first day of June? School dismissed for the summer, and all that lay ahead were barefoot walks through warm grass, meetups with friends at a local swimming pool or beach, and the predictable brain freeze incurred following an ill-advised downing of a gas station Icee. The Alzheimer’s Association has designated the month of June as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. The designation is meant to draw attention to a different type of brain freeze.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia
The brain has been compared to a computer, which is an incredible understatement. The human brain is “more complex than any other known structure in the universe,” according to a National Geographic article called “The human brain, explained.”
Unfortunately, in the United States, neurological damage is a reality for one in five Americans. Dementia is but one disorder that can affect brain function. Approximately 5.8 million people in the United States live with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia.
These are the terrible and ugly facts that we must contemplate and share during Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “the more people know about Alzheimer’s, the more action is inspired.”
The importance of sharing your story
The association is encouraging people with the disease, as well as their caregivers and loved ones, to share their stories. Your story may drive someone to seek a diagnosis of his or her own, or to contribute to Alzheimer’s research.
Personal awareness drives empathy
If you’re at the beginning or in the middle of your dementia journey, your story is still being written. Tell it anyway. Talking about the disease and how it characterizes your daily experience is crucial to your sphere of influence and will also provide a stress release for you. Exposing friends and family members to Alzheimer’s will create personal awareness that cultivates empathy.
People with personal knowledge of the disease are more empathetic toward your situation. Your sphere of influence may not completely grasp the gravity of your life with Alzheimer’s, but they may begin to understand. This could result in friends and family members reaching out more to assist you along the way, helping you to feel less isolated and alone.
Personal awareness drives vulnerability
Exposure to your story may lead a friend, neighbor, or acquaintance to a pivotal understanding, which is: Alzheimer’s disease is no respecter of persons. If the disease becomes a part of your reality, it could just as easily become a part of your neighbor’s as well.
Personal awareness drives funding
An increase in research funding for Alzheimer’s disease will push the world closer to a cure. When a friend or loved one has been diagnosed, the need for funding becomes more personal. Statistics no longer represent the millions, but a loved one, neighbor, friend. Knowing someone with the disease may drive you to allot money to research funding.
The Alzheimer’s Association has practical tips on how to engage during Alzheimer’s Brain and Awareness Month. You can participate by sharing your story, wearing purple for awareness, or getting involved in The Longest Day on June 20.
Really, can you think of a better time of year to “inspire action” and strive toward the elimination of brain freeze?
Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.
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