New report offers updated information on Alzheimer’s disease
Do you remember what day it is?
A new report from the U.S. Surgeon General and U.S. Public Health Service offers updated information on reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Over 5.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease according to latest government projections. The disease continues to be among the top concerns of those in the aging public.
Dementia is listed ahead of cancer or stroke as their most feared disease. In summary, the report notes individuals of all ages and their families should take actions to maintain and sustain their cognitive health, realizing that there is wide variability in cognitive health among individuals. Specifically, individuals should:
- Be physically active.
- Reduce and manage cardiovascular disease risk factors (including hypertension, diabetes, smoking).
- Regularly discuss and review health conditions and medications that might influence cognitive health with a health care professional.
- Take additional actions that may promote cognitive health, including:
- Be socially and intellectually engaged, and engage in lifelong learning;
- Get adequate sleep and receive treatment for sleep disorders if needed;
- Take steps to avoid the risk of cognitive changes due to delirium if hospitalized; and
- Carefully evaluate products advertised to consumers to improve cognitive health, such as medications, nutritionals, and cognitive training.
The report, entitled “Reducing the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and Maintaining Brain Health in an Aging Society” and co-written by Melinda Kelley, PhD, Brigette Ulin, MPH, and Lisa C. McGuire, PhD, indicates that in 2011, “the National Prevention Council, chaired by the US surgeon general, developed the National Prevention Strategy, which provides a framework upon which policies and projects concerning brain health could be built.”
Projects from this endeavor are “intended for a range of partners, including decision makers in federal, state, and local government; providers of services to the aging population; public health officials; and health care providers.”
It specifies actions that can improve health and well-being later in life, including:
(1) prevention efforts to enable older adults to remain active, independent, and involved in their communities;
(2) innovative, evidence-based programs conducted by federal departments and agencies and local communities that address the challenges to physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being that are often encountered later in life; and
(3) future multisector efforts to promote and facilitate healthy aging at the community level.
Current known facts about aging in America:
- After age 65, the risk of Alzheimer’s doubles every five years.
- One in eight adults aged 60 and older (12.7%) report experiencing “confusion or memory loss that is happening more often or is getting worse” over the past 12 months.
- Among these individuals, only 19.3% reported discussing these changes with a healthcare provider, and 35.2% reported difficulties due to confusion or memory loss. Additionally, 34.5% live alone.
- As many as half of Americans with Alzheimer’s and other dementias have not been diagnosed.
What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s and typical age-related changes?
|Signs of Alzheimer’s/dementia||Typical age-related changes|
|Poor judgment and decision-making||Making a bad decision once in a while|
|Inability to manage a budget||Missing a monthly payment|
|Losing track of the date or the season||Forgetting which day it is and remembering it later|
|Difficulty having a conversation||Sometimes forgetting which word to use|
|Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them||Losing things from time to time|