Opinion

Boyce-Wilson: AARP is helping women prevent dementia in Arizona

Posted 1/28/22

AARP is encouraging people to focus on brain health. As our population ages, the number of people living with dementia is projected to increase dramatically. Today more than 6 million people in the United States have some type of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, and those numbers are growing at an alarming rate around the world.

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Opinion

Boyce-Wilson: AARP is helping women prevent dementia in Arizona

Posted

AARP is encouraging people to focus on brain health. As our population ages, the number of people living with dementia is projected to increase dramatically.

Today more than 6 million people in the United States have some type of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, and those numbers are growing at an alarming rate around the world.

This takes a devastating toll, not only on those who are suffering but also on their caregivers. Women are at the center of this crisis. Why?

Because two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women, and more than 60% of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers are women. The economic burden of dementia on women in the U.S. is estimated to be $91.1 billion. AARP believes it can play a key role in helping solve these challenges.

AARP has joined the Brain Trust, which is chaired by former first lady Laura Bush. The trust, established for women by the group UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, is dedicated to transforming how women see, think and talk about brain health.

In April 2020, AARP along with Milken Institute’s Center for the Future of Aging and UsAgainstAlzheimer’s convened a meeting of the Brain Health Partnership to focus on prevention, including steps women can take to help keep their minds sharp and reduce their risk of cognitive decline.

In May 2020, AARP released a report with Maria Shriver’s Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement that is called “Its Time to Act; The Challenges of Alzheimer’s and Dementia for Women.” This report reflects the views of science and policy thought leaders on how to address the women’s Alzheimer’s crisis.

Following the report’s release, AARP launched an effort to engage women directly. The campaign encourages women to take the “Be Brain Powerful 30-Day Challenge.” Each day, participants receive an email with suggestions for improving brain health for themselves and their families. AARP encourages women to join the campaign. Challenge yourself at StayingSharp.org.

AARP is in this for the long term.

They have implemented a three-part strategy focused on prevention, care and cure. Their goals are to reduce risks for cognitive decline, to create opportunities for people living with dementia and their caregivers, and spark hope for the future by investing to help find a cure.

AARP convened the Global Council on Brain Health to bring together scientists, doctors, scholarships and policy experts around the world to debate the latest in brain health science.

The goal is to reach consensus about what therapies work and to translate critical scientific information on brain health into simple actions people can take every day to help them stay sharp throughout their lives.

AARP has also invested $60 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund to pay for research and development aimed at creating cutting-edge treatments — and ultimately, a cure for Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

Many experts believe that up to one-third of dementias can be prevented or delayed by modifying behavioral risk factors. They estimate that if we can stall the onset of dementia by just five years, we can cut the incidence rate in half.

How women can reduce risks:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Stimulate your brain with puzzles, books and games.
  • Stay socially connected.
  • Relieve your stress.
  • Get plenty of good-quality sleep.
  • Consume a balanced diet; Mediterranean-style is optimal.
  • Protect your head from injury with a helmet when biking or skiing.
  • Control chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Pledge to do your part to be brain healthy. The stakes are high, especially for women — who bear the heaviest burden when dementia strikes.

Editor’s note: Bonnie Boyce-Wilson wrote this for Women’s Watch.

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