• Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

Use your brain. That’s what we're told all the time. But does it matter? It does once you realize that everyone who has a brain is at risk of developing Alzheimer’s, one of the only leading causes of death that cannot be prevented or cured. But there is some evidence that it might be able to be slowed.

Did you know that more than 55 million people worldwide live with Alzheimer’s? Alzheimer’s is one of the hard-to-treat diseases that attack the brain. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s and only minimal treatments for other brain-related diseases like Parkinson’s.

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease that kills nerve cells and tissue in the brain, affecting an individual’s ability to remember, think, and plan. Ultimately, those with the disease will lose their ability to communicate, recognize family and friends, and care for themselves.

Being Aware Can Help

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. The CDC expects that number to climb to about 95 million by 2060. Currently, Alzheimer’s is ranked as the sixth leading cause of death among U.S. adults. The number of people who live with Alzheimer’s doubles every five years after the age of 65.

In more than 90% of cases of Alzheimer’s, symptoms do not show until after age 60.

Here Are the Top Five signs of Alzheimer’s:

• Memory loss that disrupts daily life: Forgetting events, repeating yourself, or relying on more aids to help you remember (like sticky notes or reminders).
• Challenges in planning or solving problems: Having trouble paying bills or cooking recipes you have used for years.
• Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or during leisure: Having problems with cooking, driving, using a cell phone, or shopping.
• Confusion with time or place: Having trouble understanding an event that is happening later or losing track of dates.
• Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relations: Having more difficulty with balance or judging distance, tripping over things at home, or spilling or dropping things more often.

Things You Can Do to Help Your Brain

According to alz.org, there is growing evidence that you can reduce your risk of cognitive decline by adopting key lifestyle habits.

Here are some things you can do to keep your brain healthy:

  • Follow your heart: Monitor your blood pressure, get tested for diabetes, and maintain cardiovascular health.
  • Take care of your head: Wear a seat belt and a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike.
  • Eat a balanced diet: Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Get some sleep: Keep your thinking and memory sharp.
  • Take care of your mental health: Seek treatment if you suffer from depression or anxiety.
  • Stay socially engaged: See friends and family regularly.
  • Challenge your mind: Engage in activities that require deep thinking, like building something or playing strategy games.
  • Exercise: Elevate your heart rate, increase blood flow, and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
  • Continue learning: Take classes to keep your brain active.
  • Stop smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of cognitive decline.

UCR Health’s Specially Trained Providers Are Here to Help Keep You Healthy

During Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and every month, we’re here to help keep you healthy and your brain engaged.

Talk to your UCR Health primary care provider for more information. If you don't have a primary care provider, find one by visiting https://www.ucrhealth.org/make-an-appointment/ or give us a call at 1-844-827-8000.

Celebrate your health by taking care of your brain. We're here to help you stay healthy through every stage of life.

About UCR Health

UCR Health is comprised of a team of physicians, specialists, and healthcare professionals dedicated to improving people’s health. With five medical offices located throughout the Inland Empire and Coachella Valley, UCR Health is growing to meet the healthcare needs of the region, bringing innovative, culturally sensitive medical care to the community. Established alongside the School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside, UCR Health’s patient-centered primary care and specialty services deliver university-based healthcare excellence and innovation to all communities.