The family of Bruce Willis recently announced that the actor has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD).1 By choosing to speak publicly about his diagnosis, Willis and his family are helping to bring awareness to dementia, which is rapidly growing in prevalence. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, around 6 million Americans have dementia. By 2050, this number is expected to rise to nearly 13 million.2
With dementia on the rise, it’s important to understand what this chronic disease is and how it could impact your family. Keep reading for helpful information you need to know, including prevention tips and ways you can be prepared.
What is dementia?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia is “a general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life.”3
Dementia is a term that covers a range of specific conditions, with Alzheimer’s being the most common cause of dementia. It’s important to note that dementia is not forgetfulness or being senile. Dementia is a serious medical condition that isn’t a normal part of aging.3
What are the early signs of dementia?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s, including:4
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
If you notice any of these signs in yourself or another person, it’s important to take action and be evaluated by a doctor.
How can I prevent dementia?
While research is still evolving when it comes to preventing dementia, there’s strong evidence that certain lifestyle choices may reduce your risk. Check out these five simple ways you can help keep your brain healthy as you age:
- Exercise: Moving isn’t just good for your body; it’s also good for your mind. Exercise may be a beneficial strategy to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.5
- Sleep: Researchers found that individuals who sleep under five hours per night are twice as likely to develop dementia compared to those who sleep six to eight hours per night.6 Be sure to catch enough Zzzs each night to help your body and mind recharge.
- Eat healthy: Current research suggests that heart-healthy eating may also help protect brain health. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet have been studied and may be beneficial to lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s.5
- Get social: Studies indicate that maintaining strong social connections may lower the risk of cognitive decline.5 Call your friends and carve out time to spend with loved ones. Meet likeminded people by joining clubs and groups that meet up in your area.
- Engage your brain: Research shows doing crossword puzzles, reading, playing board games and cards, playing musical instruments, and participating in other hobbies is associated with a decreased risk of dementia.7
How can I prepare for the financial impact?
While you’re practicing the healthy lifestyle choices above to help prevent dementia, it doesn’t hurt to also help protect your family from the financial impact of a potential diagnosis through critical illness insurance. This supplemental coverage provides direct cash benefits that can help protect you from the unexpected costs of critical illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and more.
For example, a critical illness policy could pay up to a $50,000 lump-sum benefit when a policyholder is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This money could be used to help cover memory care, which in the U.S. costs on average $6,935 a month.8
We’re here for you
Do you have questions about how critical illness insurance can help protect you from the financial impact of Alzheimer’s disease and other critical illnesses? For more information, call (800) 525-7662.
1Yahoo!, As Bruce Willis’ diagnosis is revealed – what is frontotemporal dementia, https://uk.movies.yahoo.com/bruce-willis-diagnosis-revealed-frontotemporal-162612919.html, 2023.
2Alzheimer’s Association, Facts and Figures, https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures, 2022.
3Alzheimer’s Association, What Is Dementia?, https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia, accessed 2023.
4Alzheimer’s Association, 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s, https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/10_signs, accessed 2023.
5Alzhimer’s Association, Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented?, https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/research_progress/prevention, accessed 2023.
6Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare, Understanding the Connection Between Sleep and Dementia, https://www.harvardpilgrim.org/hapiguide/understanding-the-connection-between-sleep-and-dementia, accessed 2023.
7Verywell Health, Do Crossword Puzzles Prevent Dementia?, https://www.verywellhealth.com/do-crossword-puzzles-prevent-dementia-98429, February 2022.
8SeniorLiving.org, Memory Care Costs, https://www.seniorliving.org/memory-care/costs, February 2023.