Three important days come together on Sept. 21 each year: World Alzheimer’s Day, International Day of Peace and World Gratitude Day. At first glance, peace, gratitude and Alzheimer’s don’t have much in common.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth leading cause of death. Approximately 500,000 people die each year because they have Alzheimer’s, which is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America that can’t be prevented, cured or slowed.
Although symptoms of dementia can vary, at least two of the following core mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia: memory, communication and language, ability to focus and pay attention, reasoning and judgment, and visual perception.
One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. Women are more likely than men to develop Alzheimer’s and women are also more likely than men to be caretakers of those with Alzheimer’s.
As the baby boomer generation ages, the rate of Alzheimer’s increases. By 2050, experts estimate that as many as 16 million Americans may be living with Alzheimer’s and related dementia.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is held annually in more than 600 communities throughout the country. The world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research, this event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to reclaim the future for millions. Join a walk in your area and help support those with Alzheimer’s.
The International Day of Peace was established by the United Nations in 1981 as an annual day of non-violence and cease-fire. The United Nations invites all nations and people to honor a cessation of hostilities and to commemorate the Day of Peace through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.
World Gratitude Day began in 1965 in Hawaii as a day to express gratitude and appreciation for the wonderful things found in the world. Since the first Gratitude Day in 1966, the day has grown in scope and is celebrated by more and more people around the world each year.
Showing gratitude and appreciation and having positive reflections impacts our well-being and makes us happier and more content with life.
If you don’t see a link between these three days, maybe you haven’t been impacted by Alzheimer’s or related dementia. When a loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s, you have to come to peace with what the future holds. Alzheimer’s and related dementia are progressive disorders, meaning symptoms start out slowly and gradually get worse.
Even as you mourn the loss of your loved one’s memory, you may find yourself filled with a sense of gratitude for the life your loved one has enjoyed.
As you care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you may find peace by sharing your own memories of times spent together in the past.
The future may be uncertain, but living in the moment and holding onto the joy of simple pleasures may also help you find peace when a loved one has Alzheimer’s.
Various forms of the gratitude challenge on Facebook ask individuals to share three reasons they are grateful each day for seven days. By focusing on gratitude, you will find a sense of peace in any situation – even during the long and winding journey of Alzheimer’s.