June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month

Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month offers the perfect opportunity for all Americans to take charge of their brain health.

Nearly seven million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. While some brain changes may be inevitable as we age, research suggests that adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors may help our brains age healthier. The top five tips include regular exercise, having healthy sleep, eating a heart-healthy diet, staying mentally and socially active, and keeping your mind challenged and engaged. Since about one in ten people over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia, it’s helpful to be aware of the warning signs and to reach out for a diagnosis and assistance early on.

Many people know the warning signs of dementia, such as having difficulty with familiar tasks, visual cues and spatial relationships, new problems with words (speaking or written), poor judgment, withdrawal from enjoyable activities, and changes in mood or personality. It can be difficult to know what to do if you notice these signs in yourself or someone you care about. Talking about these changes can be uncomfortable. The resources below have information on prevention, how to approach memory concerns with someone you care about, assessment availability, and how to prepare for a physician appointment.

Some people think nothing can be done and ask, “Why get checked?” Taking action and having significant health concerns evaluated by a medical team is important. With memory or brain concerns, early evaluation and detection allow for more treatments and potential ways to slow down or relieve symptoms to maintain independence longer. Some treatable health conditions can mimic the early stages of dementia, so it is essential to get thoroughly checked. The Alzheimer’s Association states that early diagnosis saves medical and long-term care costs.

There are also social and emotional benefits to diagnosing early. Many people experience frustration and anxiety when they don’t know what is wrong but are having symptoms. Family and loved ones can experience this anxiety and frustration, too. When getting checked out early, we open the door to support services and gain knowledge about the diagnosis to better plan for the future. For more information, the following local resources offer services related to Alzheimer’s and Dementia:

  1. Alzheimer’s Association 800-272-3900 - offers multiple services throughout the country with an OC chapter
  2. Alzheimer’s Family Center 714-593-9630- Huntington Beach location, offers adult day care services, caregiver support and counseling, and community education
  3. Alzheimer’s Orange County 844-373-4400- offers multiple services, including a caregiver support group at the HB Senior Center in Central Park twice monthly
  4. OC Vital Brain Program 949-764-6288 offers multiple services, including in-person memory screenings at the HB Senior Center in Central Park twice monthly
  5. Senior Center in Central Park 714-536-5600 offers socialization, education, fitness, and volunteer opportunities to help keep minds healthy and engaged

Whatever your age, now is the right time to take actions that help promote a healthy brain. You can learn about brain health and what steps you can take if you or someone you love has memory concerns.