Historically considered an “old person’s” disease, mounting evidence suggests Alzheimer’s may begin in the brain 20-30 years before the first experience of symptoms.
This means an estimated 47 million Americans have preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, indicating the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s will triple by 2050. This is a daunting prospect, but there is hope.
Research also suggests that 4 in 10 cases of Alzheimer’s disease may be preventable by adopting brain-healthy lifestyle habits. As such, it is more critical than ever to reframe Alzheimer’s as a potentially preventable disease that deserves attention long before a person considers themselves old.
Teaching young people that consistent, high-quality sleep; healthy food choices that nourish and replenish brain cells; regular physical exercise; emotional well-being; and keeping your brain active are all critical steps we can take to ensure a future free of widespread cognitive decline.
An engaged generation
Educating young people also means cultivating a new generation of Alzheimer’s activists to:
- Engage in intergenerational family conversations about the signs and symptoms of memory loss, how to talk to your doctor, and future care needs to destigmatize and reduce the shame and secrecy often associated with dementia.
- Center dementia as a public health priority, addressing disparities in health and access to care.
- Participate in clinical trials to increase early detection and prevention, and assist loved ones to find appropriate trials.
- Pursue careers in geriatrics and neurology.
The fact is, it’s never too early (or too late) to start taking care of your brain.
Learn more by visiting wearehfc.org.