World Alzheimer’s Day takes place this year on the 21 September and is an annual event that has been designed to raise awareness of what is now the most common form of dementia. There are currently around 800,000 people in the UK with dementia and by 2021 this figure is predicted to rise to more than a million. Around 60% of this figure is thought to be attributable to Alzheimer’s.
What causes Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is an ongoing condition where there is a progressive loss of brain cells. The causes of Alzheimer’s are unknown, although several factors have been identified as contributing to the disease, including a previous serious head injury, a family history of the condition, the onset of mature and old age, and lifestyle factors associated with cardio vascular disease. There is no cure for the disease as yet but there is treatment available to slow progression of the condition down, and where it has been successful diagnosed, Alzheimer’s can be properly managed.
How to spot Alzheimer’s
Although there is no single test for Alzheimer’s there are a collection of symptoms that may be an indication that the condition is developing. These include personality and behaviourial changes that could include anything from an increased level of aggression to bouts of depression, as well as a person becoming disorientated, for example forgetting where they are. Usually where Alzheimer’s is suspected tests will first be carried out to rule out other conditions before a diagnosis is confirmed.
Whilst Alzheimer’s is most common in those over 65, recent research into the condition has indicated that early warning signs of the disease can be detected in people as young as 50 – perhaps even earlier. Tests are currently in development that will allow early signs of the disease to be highlighted so that treatment can be given early to try and delay onset of serious symptoms.
Although it is not known exactly what causes Alzheimer’s there are a number of preventative steps that can be taken by everyone to try and avoid the condition. These include giving up smoking, staying physically fit and mentally active and eating a balanced diet. With around a third of British over 65s affected by Alzheimer’s Disease, highlighting its effects and the measures that can be taken to prevent it, is incredibly important – that’s why we are fully supporting World Alzheimer’s Day on 21 September and we hope you will too.