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June Is Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month

Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month is an annual event to raise awareness for a condition that affects 55 million people worldwide.

Over 55 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. This number is growing every day, with someone being diagnosed every three seconds.  

 

Dementia is a broad term for memory loss, impaired thinking, and difficulty with daily activities, resulting from various underlying conditions or diseases that affect the brain. The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, is characterized by progressive memory loss and cognitive decline. 

 

While most people think of dementia as an older person’s disease, you might be surprised to learn that Alzheimer’s and dementia can affect anyone at any age. In fact, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease can manifest itself as early as age 40. Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), especially Down syndrome, are at an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. 

 

Scientists don’t know exactly what causes Alzheimer’s and dementia, or if it can be prevented. However, Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month aims to change that by raising awareness for this disease and advancing the fight for a cure.  

History of Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month

Although Alzheimer’s has always been around, doctors haven’t really identified and understood this disease until fairly recently. 

 

In 1906, a German doctor named Alois Alzheimer observed an ‘unusual disease of the cerebral cortex’ that had affected one of his patients. Up until this point, few people studied the disease, and it was still thought of as being a rare condition.  

 

Relatively little progress was made in understanding Alzheimer’s until the 1970s, when there were major research efforts with promising results. By 1976, Alzheimer’s was recognized as the most common type of dementia.  

 

The disease became more widely known in 1994 when former President Ronald Reagan shared his diagnosis. His high-profile battle with the disease helped to promote public awareness and elevate research on brain disorders.  

 

Today, the month of June is designated as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. This culminates with The Longest Day, a day of fundraising and events to shed light on Alzheimer’s. It is celebrated on the summer solstice, or the day with the most light, June 21.  

5 Ways to Recognize Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month

Here are five ways to recognize Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month this June and help raise awareness all month long: 

1. Take the Go Purple Challenge

During the month of June, you may see more people wearing purple than usual. That’s because purple is the official color of the Alzheimer’s movement. The Alzheimer’s Association’s Go Purple Challenge calls for people to wear purple throughout June, and especially on June 21st, to promote Alzheimer’s awareness. If you decide to join the challenge, be sure to post a picture on social media with the hashtag #ENDALZ.  

2. Walk for a cure

We all know that exercise is great for your body. But did you know it can also benefit your brain? Researchers have found that regular physical activity can slow cognitive decline and may even help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Joining an Alzheimer’s awareness walk is a great way to get some exercise while raising funds to fight against this disease. This interactive map makes it easy to find a walk near you.  

3. Spread awareness on social media

Another way to spread awareness is to share information about Alzheimer’s and dementia on your social media accounts. You can find lots of helpful facts and figures on the Alzheimer’s Association website. 

“While only 4 in 10 Americans talk to their doctor right away when experiencing early memory or cognitive loss, 7 in 10 would want to know early if they have Alzheimer’s disease if it could allow for earlier treatment.”
“While only 4 in 10 Americans talk to their doctor right away when experiencing early memory or cognitive loss, 7 in 10 would want to know early if they have Alzheimer’s disease if it could allow for earlier treatment.”

4. Share stories of people with Alzheimer’s

About half a million people in the US are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia each year, including many celebrities and famous people. Notable people with this disease include former President Ronald Reagan, Rose Parks, and Rita Hayworth. By sharing their stories, you can help raise awareness and end stigma.  

5. Recognize the early signs and symptoms

Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s helps both the affected individual and their family adjust to changes in functioning and plan for the future. It also gives people a better chance of benefiting from treatments that can slow progression of the disease. That’s why it’s so important to recognize the early signs and symptoms that may be associated with Alzheimer’s or dementia.  

Download the free Disability Events calendar

Whether you dress up in purple or lace up your sneakers for a fundraiser walk, your efforts will help make a difference for the 55 million people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. For more disability-related events and observances you can participate in all year, download our free Disability Events Calendar. 

Free Resource: 2024 Disability Events Calendar
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