Do you know the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia? Do you think Alzheimer’s is a normal part of ageing? Are you aware of what treatments are available for people with Alzheimer’s?
There are around 500,000 people in the UK with Alzheimer’s disease and public awareness is growing, but there are still many misconceptions about the disease.
As September is World Alzheimer’s Month, we’ve put together five things you should know about Alzheimer’s disease.
1. The difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The word ‘dementia’ is just an umbrella term for the symptoms caused by diseases such as memory loss, confusion and personality change. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia accounting for around six in every 10 cases.
2. Alzheimer’s is not just a normal part of ageing
Alzheimer’s is a physical disease that attacks the brain, causing nerve cells to die and the brain to shrink.
The older you are the more likely you are to have Alzheimer’s disease, but it is not an inevitable part of ageing. Around four per cent of people with Alzheimer’s are under 65.
3. You can do things to reduce your risk
There is no sure-fire way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease or the other forms of dementia and risk is a complex mix of age, genes and the lifestyles we lead.
Some of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s are the same as for cardiovascular disease (like heart disease and stroke), so leading a healthy lifestyle and taking regular exercise can lower your risk.
Some studies suggest that enjoying an active social life, with lots of interests and hobbies, might also help.
So by taking part in parkrun you are already helping to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease as having a physically and socially active lifestyle can support a healthy brain as you age.
4. There are currently no treatments to stop Alzheimer’s disease
While current treatments can help people to live with their symptoms a little better, there are no treatments that slow or stop diseases like Alzheimer’s. This means that the diseases will continue to get worse over time.
History has shown us that diseases can be cured. It’s already working for cancer. We are making progress and breakthroughs that will change lives are getting closer.
5. Investment in Alzheimer’s research is still low
Since Alzheimer’s Research UK became official charity partners of parkrun UK in 2015, parkrunners have done an amazing job fundraising for dementia research.
But investment in dementia research still lags significantly behind that of cancer research. There are approximately four cancer researchers for every one dementia researcher.
Raising investment in dementia research to a similar level will help to drive forward much-needed progress towards a cure.
For more information about Alzheimer’s Research UK, dementia and our research click here.
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