NOVEMBER IS ALZHEIMER’S AWARENESS MONTH
Alzheimer’s is a complex neurological disease that is the most common form of dementia. More than 5 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s. This month, in particular, we want to raise awareness to adults age 65 and older. Beginning at this age the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia begins increasing, making mental health an important thing to think about.
“Alzheimer's disease is often looked at as embarrassing, or like a death sentence. This disease is often misunderstood. Many are ashamed to talk about Alzheimer's or admit how it has affected them. In reality, educating others and encouraging awareness are the best things we can do to fight this disease,” said Erin DeLancey, Speech Language Pathologist at Spring Creek Healthcare.
Seeing a doctor when facing memory loss is important, but there are also ways to proactively fight or minimize the effects of Alzheimer’s. There are four methods suggested by doctors that center on keeping the mind active:
Read anything, but keep a variety. Find books or magazines you haven’t read before, or try out a new genre of books. Subscribe to a daily newspaper; there is plenty of variety in the different stories. The goal here is to force your mind to engage, to think.
2- Do puzzles.
Just as reading forces your mind to engage, so do puzzles. This can be anything from a physical picture puzzle to a crossword or Sudoku. Word searches are good too. Pick up a puzzle book at a bookstore or try and complete the puzzles in your daily newspaper. Find a puzzle style you enjoy and dive into it.
3- Change your routine.
Continue your daily living, but try and add some variety to how you do it. If you have a certain route to drive or walk around, change it up every now and then. Try and break the routine by adding variety. This forces the brain to think more than it would in a normal, expected routine.
4- Exercise your body.
Keeping your mind in shape isn’t just a mental activity, physical exercise helps too. Exercise gets more blood flowing through the brain and releases stimulating chemicals. Don’t overexert yourself, but find a physical activity that you can do comfortably. Whether it’s walking, running, bowling or swimming, physical exercise can keep your mind in shape.
There are many other ways to keep your mind in shape, but those are four easy and simple ways to help prevent or diminish the effects of Alzheimer’s. However, if you do start to notice signs of memory loss, don’t avoid the doctor’s office. Early detection can make a big impact on how Alzheimer’s will affect you.
“Alzheimer's is an evolving process. The symptoms do not show up all at once. This is why making your self aware of the signs and symptoms will improve your quality of life,” said Erin DeLancey.
When the later stages of Alzheimer’s and Dementia bring problems, areas like Spring Creek Healthcare at MCCH offers a program called Music and Memory that lets patients listen to music to help bring back good memories and improve their way of life.
From the early to the deep stages, Alzheimer’s and Dementia can be treated and the impact can be lessened through preventative and reactive measures. While a cure may one day end the disease, treatment remains the best way to deal with the effects of Alzheimer’s.
For more information on Spring Creek Healthcare and/or the Music and Memory Program at MCCH, call (270) 752-2900.