TRI-CITIES, WA - June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness month. The proclamation was declared last year by Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee following a report that Washington has the third highest Alzheimer's death rate in the country.
Every 65 seconds, someone new develops the disease. The Alzheimer's Association reports that number is growing. Furthermore, there are at least 110,000 people living with Alzheimer's Disease in Washington.
Alzheimer's is both progressive and fatal, and the only leading cause of death in the country that has no definitive cause, cure, or ways to slow it down.
The 2019 Alzheimer's Association annual report states:
-An estimated 5.8 million people are living with Alzheimer's
-one in 10 are 65 and older
-200,000 are younger than 65
-2/3 are women
-Hispanics are one and a half times as likely to have Alzheimer's than whites.
When regional director Joel Loiacono first got involved with the organization, he was looking to be part of a good cause. Then, the cause got very personal.
"My mother developed Alzheimer's disease, as did several of my aunts and uncles and one of my in-laws as well. So, there was a passion there before and even more of a passion now to find a cure," he said.
Because the disease runs in his family, the likelihood of Joel getting Alzheimer's himself depends on two types of genes: risk and deterministic. Although rare, these genes can cause early onset with symptoms developing in someone's early 40's to mid-50s.
Alzheimer's Association research also states there are some ways to reduce the risk of getting a diagnosis. These include:
-Monitoring your heart-- researchers say that as many as 80 percent of those with Alzheimer's also have cardiovascular disease. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can all increase the risk of getting a diagnosis.
-Exercising regularly-- exercise can benefit brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow in the brain.
-Maintaining social connections and intellectual activity-- in other words, keep your brain just as active as your body.
-Protecting your head-- according to research there is a strong link between head trauma and the risk of Alzheimer's.
On June 21, the Alzheimer's Association will hold "The Longest Day." The community is invited to raise funds by spending the day with the most light, the summer solstice, to fight the darkness of Alzheimer's by doing an activity of their choice until dark. You can find the link to register, learn more on research, local resources, and ways to get involved here.