Thumbnail image from Pixabay
By Rebecca Fending
This month starts National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and with it an opportunity to learn more about this disease, how to prevent it and how to help those affected by the condition.
Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia, often impeding the affected person’s daily life and tasks. This disease accounts for 60 to 80% of dementia diagnoses. Although there is no cure, there are ways to promote brain health and healthy aging for you and your loved ones:
- National Memory Screening Program – Memory screenings are free, simple, quick, noninvasive healthy brain checkups that consist of a series of questions to gauge memory, language, thinking skills and other intellectual functions. Screenings are conducted one-on-one through secure videoconference (i.e., Zoom, Facetime, Skype), and the program is open to everyone; there are no minimum age or insurance requirements.
- Improving physical health – Much of what helps promote healthy brain aging has to do with your physical well-being. Eating well, exercising regularly and staying active both physically and mentally helps increase blood flow to the brain. Increasing blood flow directly correlates with a healthy functioning brain. With this, limit your alcohol intake and stop smoking to keep yourself hydrated and keep oxygen flow high.
- Learn new things – One way to keep your brain stimulated and active as you age is by challenging yourself to learn new things daily. Whether it be a language, a documentary, a new hobby or sport, or even brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, any activity that exercises the brain is wonderful at staving off Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- Get enough sleep regularly – Quality sleep also helps the brain to age with grace. Sleep is what allows the body to repair itself, as well as work to store new memories from the day. Rest for the brain is just as important as stimulation.
- Socially stimulate yourself – Push yourself into social situations to help keep your cognitive stimulation high.
For family members looking for help and guidance in handling a member close to them with Alzheimer’s, here are a few resources to best help you:
- AFA Helpline – Available by phone (866-232-8484), text message (646-586-5283) and webchat (www.alzfdn.org), the AFA Helpline (staffed entirely by licensed social workers specifically trained in dementia care) provides guidance, support, answers and information about local services seven days a week.
- Virtual activity programming – To help individuals affected by Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers stay active and engaged from anywhere, AFA offers free daily activity and therapeutic programs through its website. Activities at “the AFA Teal Room” include music, art, movement, chair yoga, fitness, meditation, virtual tours and more. View programs at www.alzfdn.org/afatealroom.
- Telephone-based support groups – AFA offers free weekly, telephone-based support groups facilitated by AFA’s licensed social workers, designed to give caregivers a place to connect and share from anywhere in the country. Contact AFA’s Helpline at 866-232-8484 for additional information about registering for a caregiver support group.
All information direct from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America