Healthy Living: Dementia is not a normal part of aging

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If you're seeing a lot of people wearing purple this month, or landmarks lighting up in the hue... it's because June is Alzheimer's Awareness Month.   According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's disease is the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that can't be prevented, cured or even slowed.  It's also the most common cause of dementia, a term for memory loss and cognitive changes severe enough to interfere with daily living.

"Many people believe that dementia is a normal part of aging.  That simply isn't true," said Carrie McBride, the communications director for the Washington State Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.  "It's common, for instance, to momentarily forget where you parked the car; but if you can't retrace your steps or aren't sure where you are or why you're there, that's cause for concern."

In Washington, it's estimated there are 110,000 people living with Alzheimer's disease and another 348,000 providing care for a loved one with the disease.

"People have a lot of misconceptions about Alzheimer's disease and dementia," said McBride.  "Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month is a time dedicated to educating the public and increasing people's understanding of the disease, as well as sharing resources that are available in the community."

Friday, June 21st is the year's longest day.  It's also a time to shine a light on Alzheimer's and the struggles people living with it, or caregivers face each day. Seattle's Great Wheel, along with the Columbia Center Tower will light up purple to bring attention to the disease.  The Seattle Mariner's are also marking the occasion with an Alzheimer's Association Night at the ballpark and highlighting an initiative, called The Longest Day.

To learn more about Alzheimer's Disease, the warning signs or find out about resources available in the state of Washington to help, visit the Alzheimer's Association or call 1-800-272-3900.

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