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ANOTHER VIEW Go purple for June

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month to raise awareness of and support people living with these afflictions.

People are encouraged to wear purple and share their stories to spread awareness.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are more than 55 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia worldwide.

Dementia-Friendly Lehigh Valley reports approximately 25,000 people are living with Alzheimer’s in the Lehigh Valley.

Someone develops dementia every three seconds, and research shows most people living with dementia often don’t receive a formal diagnosis, according to Alzheimer’s disease International.

Early symptoms of dementia include memory loss, difficulty performing familiar tasks, problems with language, disorientation, decreased judgment, problems concentrating, misplacing things, changes in mood or behavior, trouble with spatial relationships and withdrawal from work or social activities, according to ADI.

There are more than 20 genes that affect a person’s risk of developing dementia, ADI reported.

Additionally, women are reportedly more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

There has been research into how to reduce the risks of developing Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

According to ADI, there are 12 lifestyle risk factors that can increase risk of dementia.

These include physical inactivity, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, air pollution, head injury, infrequent social contact, less education, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, depression and hearing impairment.

A University of Maryland study, published May 25, revealed walking can strengthen connectivity between three brain networks, one of which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Historically, the brain networks we studied in this research show deterioration over time in people with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease,” J. Carson Smith, a kinesiology professor with the University of Maryland School of Public Health, said. “They become disconnected, and as a result, people lose their ability to think clearly and remember things. We’re demonstrating that exercise training strengthens these connections.”

Luckily for Lehigh Valley residents, there are a number of scenic walking trails in the area, including the Ironton Rail Trail, the D&L Trail, Lehigh Parkway, Monocacy Way and more.

Currently, there is no cure for dementia, but more work is being done to learn more about dementia and move research forward.

A new genetic variant protecting against Alzheimer’s disease has reportedly been identified by an international team led by Harvard Medical School investigators, according to the Harvard Gazette.

Dementia-Friendly Lehigh Valley has initiatives, events, educational resources, outreach information and more for local residents. The organization aims to cultivate and create a community equipped to support people living with dementia “so they can remain in the community and engage and thrive in day-to-day living,” according to its website.

This June, remember your friends and neighbors may be fighting an unseen battle with their own brains or learning to adapt to and live with a new reality. Additionally, supporting and assisting loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other related diseases can take a toll on caregivers.

There are a number of resources available to those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.

For more information, go to alz.org.

Extend patience, love and support and remember to wear purple.

Samantha Anderson

editorial assistant

Whitehall-Coplay Press

Catasauqua Press

Northampton Press