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National Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month

June 10, 2014
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According to the Alzheimer's Association, 37,000 people are living with Alzheimer's disease in Maine. While these numbers are staggering, the Association says that much of the disease is still misunderstood. In an effort to spread the word, they have initiated the inaugural Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness month, which is taking place during this month.

'The primary goal is to really have this conversation about the brain, and how everyone is at risk, not just family,' says Bill Kirkpatrick, program director of the Maine chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

The Alzheimer's Association reported that nearly one in four people mistakenly believe that Alzheimer's must run in their family for them to be at risk. In fact, anyone who has a brain is at risk for getting Alzheimer's.

Currently, there is no way to prevent, stop or even slow the disease.

'There is sort of this stigma, where people are afraid and don't want to talk about it,' Kirkpatrick says, noting that it is a fatal disease, and that it can affect anyone. He says that one of the goals of Awareness Month is to spread the word about the disease, and raise research dollars.

'Everyone can raise awareness,' Kirkpatrick says.

In addition to Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness month, the Association has chosen June 21 to honor those who are facing Alzheimer's. They want people on the Longest Day to participate in an activity, whether it is walking, crafting or playing cards. To learn more about the Longest Day, you can visithttp://alz.org/thelongestday.

The Alzheimer's Association says that there are number of ways that people can get involved during the month of June. They are encouraging people to turn to social media to share facts about the disease. They are also asking people to wear purple on June 21 to show their support for people affected by the disease. They also suggest that people turn to their local legislators and write to ask for federal funding for Alzheimer's research.

Program Director Bill Kirkpatrick says that there are a number of resources available to people living in the state who either have Alzheimer's or are a caregiver of someone with Alzheimer's. He says that there are 24/7 helplines and over 40 support groups around the state.

Kirkpatrick says that it is important for people to share their experiences, because 'things change.'

For more information on the Alzheimer's Association, the Longest Day or programs for those dealing with the disease, you can visit alz.org.

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