A mysterious problem that has affected countless lives all across the globe, Alzheimer’s is a condition which is worth looking into. Is it simply an unavoidable facet of elderly life, at least for some? Or, are there methods by which we can decrease our chances of getting it, and instead, further maintain and preserve the quality of life we so desire? Seeking answers, we reached out to Jacob Simburger, the Communications Director of the Alzheimer’s Association for the Greater Missouri area, which includes Webster County.
Is there a way to know how many people in Webster County suffer from Alzheimer’s? Simburger explains, “Finding out how many people are diagnosed with dementia in a specific county would be difficult but we can share that there are120,000 people in Missouri living with dementia and 194,000 friends and family members serving as their caregivers.”
Regarding protecting ourselves, Simburger tells us that, “Researchers around the globe are exploring how to prevent Alzheimer's. While Alzheimer's prevention has no definitive answers at this time, research has shown that we can take action to reduce our risk of developing it. Modifying our lifestyle choices has been shown to prevent the risk of cognitive decline, including adjusting our diet, exercising more and staying social. There are also the first FDA approved treatments.” More can be found by visiting www.alz.org/research or www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/research_progress/prevention.
When there is decreased mental functioning, which the experts call "cognitive decline," that is so severe it interrupts daily life, it’s called dementia, a general term. However, Alzheimer’s is one form of dementia, and is actually a disease. Simburger informs about this, “Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells. This damage interferes with the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other. When brain cells cannot communicate normally, thinking, behavior and feelings can be affected.”
He continues in further detail, “The brain has many distinct regions, each of which is responsible for different functions (for example, memory, judgment and movement). When cells in a particular region are damaged, that region cannot carry out its functions normally. Different types of dementia are associated with particular types of brain cell damage in particular regions of the brain.”
Some portions of the population are more at risk than others, as Simburger reports, “African Americans are 1.5 to 2 times more likely than whites to have dementia, and Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely. More research is needed to understand why.” More information on this can be found at https://www.alz.org/help-support/resources
If you need help managing Alzheimer’s or dementia in your own life, or for anyone in your life, the Alzheimer’s Association has a wealth of information and just may be able to point you in the right direction. If you are interested, you can read more at www.alz.org. The Alzheimer's Association's 24/7 Helpline can be reached by calling 1-800-272-3900.
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