If old acquaintance be forgot, maybe it’s time to look into that memory loss…!
When you realise that January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, it makes you wonder if Robert Burns was aware of the disease. After all, the Scotsman wrote ‘Auld Lang Syne’ in the 18th century, a poem that was put to music and is still sung by millions each New Year’s Eve. For those unfamiliar with the song, the lyrics go “If old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind, we’ll take a cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne…”
For those unfamiliar with Alzheimer’s, it is a neurological disease that affects the brain, causing brain cell death and brain shrinkage resulting in gradually debilitating memory loss. Forgetfulness, dementia, irritability, depression and confusion are just some of the symptoms of the disease. Ageing seems to be a factor (along with genetics and lifestyle) determining whether you are affected by Alzheimer’s or not. So if old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind, one might get a check-up at the doctor’s…!
Are You A Candidate For Alzheimer’s?
Jokes apart, there are a few things to be aware of regarding the disease.
- Firstly, no need to panic. If you can’t remember where you parked your car or kept your keys, it doesn’t automatically mean you have Alzheimer’s.
- The disease does tens to affect those above the age of 65 – once you cross 65, your chances of getting the disease increase, doubling every five years – but does not necessarily lead to Alzheimer’s.
- Yes, there are also those under 65 who have Alzheimer’s. Called early onset Alzheimer’s, this can occur due to genetics, i.e. if a blood relation has the disease. Keep in mind, this does not mean you will get Alzheimer’s if a relative has it.
- Women seem to be at higher risk than men of developing Alzheimer’s. Researchers are still trying to figure out the whys, but menopause might have a part to play here, since it means a lack of the hormone oestrogen. NB: ‘Higher risk’ does not equate to ‘definitely getting it’!
- As mentioned earlier, genetics play a role. If the disease runs in your family, the chances of you getting it do increase. But you can control your future with a healthy lifestyle. You didn’t think we’d share bad news on New Year’s Eve, did you?!
- The silver lining is if you exercise regularly, eat healthily, maintain a balanced body weight, avoid smoking and drink moderately, you can keep Alzheimer’s at bay.
So go ahead, party the night away this New Year’s Eve with the knowledge that your health is in your control!
Happy New Year!
Want to spread awareness about this or other causes?