How you can do your bit for World Alzheimer's Day

It's World Alzheimer's Day on Friday, and an opportunity to raise awareness and highlight the issues faced by people affected by dementia and demonstrate how we can overcome them.

September 21 is World Alzheimer's Day.
September 21 is World Alzheimer's Day.

The disease is thought to be caused by the abnormal build-up of proteins in and around brain cells, and although the cause of the process is unknown, we do know that it begins many years before symptoms appear.

As brain cells become affected, certain parts of the brain shrink, usually beginning with regions responsible for memory, though in rarer cases the first problems may be with vision or language.

As the disease progresses, hallucinations, anxiety and personality changes become more common.

There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK.

It is the most common type of dementia in the UK and its cause is not fully understood.

However, a number of things are thought to increase your risk of developing the condition. These include:

* Increasing age.

* A family history of the condition.

* Untreated depression, although depression can also be a symptom.

* Lifestyle factors and conditions associated with cardiovascular disease, such as smoking, obesity, high cholesterol and blood pressure, and diabetes.

You can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by taking measures to improve your health in general, such as stopping smoking, drinking less, eating a balanced diet, taking exercise and managing your weight.

Many people still face the condition alone and without the support and care they need.

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but medicines are available that can help relieve some of the symptoms.

If you are worried that someone close to you may have the disease, encourage them to make an appointment and suggest that you accompany them.

By Dr. Alexandra Phelan, GP with the NHS and Pharmacy2U