TAMPA, Fla. — Florida has the second highest rate of Alzheimer’s in the country, with more than half a million people ages 65 and older living with the disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The organization is encouraging people to learn the signs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and how you can reduce your risk.
This weekend, the Alzheimer’s Association’s Brain Bus will be at the Florida State Fairgrounds. The goal of the mobile education unit is to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and offer support to those living with the disease, as well as their caregivers.
“I’ve had people come up to me and say ‘well what’s the brain bus?'” said Rob Harris, program manager of the Brain Bus. “When I explain to them how we raise awareness and everything, they say ‘I wish we would’ve had this when my family was going through it and would’ve known about the 800 number.’ So, we’re here to raise awareness for Floridians to let them know that they don’t have to go through this alone, we’re here to help them.”
Two mobile units travel to every county in the state to educate people about the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s, caregiving advice, advances in research and more. Harris explained there are four main ways to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias:
- Staying physically active
- Eating a healthy diet
- Engaging in cognitive activities
- Being socially-engaged
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates the number of people in Florida living with the disease will increase by 25% in the first half of this decade. Harris said early education is key, especially if Alzheimer’s runs in your family.
“If you’re showing any of the 10 warning signs, make sure you go have a conversation with your doctor,” he said. “It can be as simple as having a vitamin deficiency, or your thyroid might not be working properly – you get treatment, you go back to normal. Otherwise, you can get on the right path to prepare for the journey of Alzheimer’s and dementia.”
The Brain Bus will be at the Fairgrounds from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. It’s part of the larger FitFest event, which showcases various health and wellness vendors in the area. It costs $10 to park, $15 for admission and the event is open to people of all ages.
The Alzheimer’s Association helpline is available 24/7, 365 days a year to people living with dementia, caregivers, family and the public. You can call 800-272-3900 for confidential support in making care decisions, dealing with a crisis or getting connected to local resources.
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