Etowah Senior

Mary Ruth Lovelace is shown here with the decorative tile she made recently at the Etowah Area Senior Citizens Center.

The last time I wrote about Alzheimer’s disease was in the month of November because it was National Alzheimer’s Month. I just saw that the Athens Movie Palace will have a showing of the movie, “The Father,” today only, at 12:30 and 6:30 p.m. The showing is sponsored by Edward Jones.

“The Father” is about a man in his 80s who is struggling from his mental decline with dementia. Everything in his life is becoming distorted. This is a wonderful film that will help you understand what it is like for someone to be suffering from the beginning stages of dementia. I saw it a while back and wished more people could see it.

Tickets for this movie will be a suggested donation of at least $8. All proceeds will go to the Alzheimer’s Association. Someone from the Alzheimer’s Association will be at the door to accept your donation.

When Alzheimer’s disease strikes a family, it can be devastating. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is characterized by the accumulation of two types of protein in the brain: Tangles and plaques. Eventually, Alzheimer’s kills brain cells and takes people’s lives.

You may be asking what causes Alzheimer’s. The researchers aren’t 100% sure. But they do know that many things may contribute to the development of symptoms, such as inflammation in the brain, vascular risk factors, and lifestyle.

Alzheimer’s effects one out of every two families. In 1983, fewer than two million people had Alzheimer’s. Today, the number has soared to almost five million. It is predicted that by 2050, the number will triple. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.A. Because of the growing number of cases of Alzheimer’s, the National Alzheimer’s Association would like everyone to be aware of some facts about Alzheimer’s.

• Alzheimer’s is usually detected at the end stage of the disease. On average, Alzheimer’s follows a 14-year course from the onset of the first symptoms. This means that most patients are not diagnosed for at least seven years, during which time the lesions have spread throughout the brain and cause irreparable damage.

• Some degree of memory loss is a fairly common part of aging. Many physicians believe that some memory loss in an older person is normal. Forgetfulness, taking longer to learn new things, not remembering as well as you once did, or losing things usually are signs of mild forgetfulness and not serious memory problems like Alzheimer’s.

• Alzheimer’s drugs are more effective in early intervention. Some patients are not treated until the late stages when they may already have massive brain damage.

• Even though there is not a cure for Alzheimer’s, that doesn’t mean that there is no treatment. The course of the disease can be altered with a good diet, physical exercise, social engagement, and medication.

• Taking good care of your heart will help our brain stay healthy. Studies show that high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity all cause a greater risk for cognitive decline.

Healthy habits may help ward off Alzheimer’s. Consider the following steps to help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.

• Exercise. The most convincing evidence is that physical exercise helps prevent the development of Alzheimer’s or slows the progression in people who have symptoms. The recommendation is 30 minutes of moderately vigorous aerobic exercise, three to four days per week. Dancing has been proven to be one of the best methods to delay the onset of dementia.

• Diet. While there is no one diet or food proven to prevent Alzheimer’s, there is evidence that diet may decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Many of the recommended foods can be found from the Mediterranean Diet and DASH Diet. The Mediterranean Diet contains many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, herbs, spices, fish and seafood. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet contains fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat milk products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts. The food also contains less sodium, less sugars and sweets, less fats, and less red meats than the typical American diet. There are 10 specific food that are found on the recommended food list. They are: Dark chocolate, turmeric, kale, sweet potatoes, berries, garbanzo beans, walnuts, fish with omega-3 fatty acids, red wine, and green tea.

• Sleep. Growing evidence suggests that improved sleep can help prevent Alzheimer’s and is linked to greater amyloid clearance from the brain. Seven to eight hours is recommended.

• Staying social. Socializing appears to have a protective effect that may help lessen your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Maintain old friendships and make new ones. Stay socially active through work, volunteer activities, travel, hobbies, family and friends. A great way to keep engaged with your friends and meet new friends is by coming to our senior center.

• Keep your brain active. Those who continue to learn new things and challenge their brains throughout their life are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease. Some ways to stimulate your brain include working crossword puzzles or Sudoku, reading, studying a foreign language, learning the lyrics to a song, learning to play an instrument, playing board games such as Scrabble, taking a new route on your way to a familiar place, and eating with your non-dominant hand. Dancing has been proven to be one of the best ways to delay the onset of dementia. Dancing requires physical, mental, emotional, and social skills. It involves other people, which can reduce feelings of isolation.

You may want to know what some signs are that someone might be developing Alzheimer’s. Simply forgetting where you parked your car or put your car keys can be annoying and you may worry that it’s a sign of a more serious condition, but don’t panic. There’s a difference between normal age-related memory slips, such as forgetting where you put something, and more serious signs of memory loss, such as forgetting what car keys are used for.

Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease include frequent memory loss, confusion about locations, taking longer to accomplish normal daily tasks, trouble handling money and paying bills, loss of spontaneity, and mood and personality changes. If you have a decline in your memory or thinking that affects your ability to perform any of your daily routines, ask your doctor for a screening to evaluate you for Alzheimer’s and related conditions.

By reading this, you have increased your understanding of the problem of Alzheimer’s and raised your awareness about what can be done to prevent and treat this disease. You can do one more thing: Spread the word that Alzheimer’s can be defeated!

One way you can help is by donating to the Pat Summitt Foundation by going to the website patsummitt.org

One hundred percent of the funds donated go to the completion of the Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Clinic at the University of Tennessee Medical Clinic.

If you would like to receive the newsletter from the National Alzheimer’s Association, you can sign up on their website at alz.org

If you are over 50 years old and live in McMinn, Monroe, or Polk counties, please visit us at the Etowah Area Senior Center, located at 435 Cooper Street in Etowah. Our phone number is 423-781-7632. There is no better way to keep your brain healthy than by socially engaging with our members and participating in the many activities we have daily. Like our Facebook page, Etowah Area Senior Center, to see the many activities here at the center. We are still on a reduced schedule. The following are some upcoming activities in the next few days. Because participation is limited, please call in advance to make a reservation at 423-781-7632.

• June 4: 9:30 a.m. — Exercise Class; 10 a.m. — Bingo with Hospice of Chattanooga; 11 a.m. — Crafts: Magnetic holder for kitchen scissors

• June 9: 9:30 a.m. — Exercise Class; 10 a.m. — Bingo with Joanna Fiochetta; 11 a.m. — Health Talk with Janis Wenzel

• June 11: 9:30 a.m. — Exercise Class; 10 a.m. — Bingo with the Lady AMVETS; 11 a.m. — Craft Class

• June 14: 9:30 a.m. — Exercise Class; 10 a.m. — Bingo with Hospice of Chattanooga; 11 a.m. — Flag Day Program; 1 to 3 p.m. — Matter of Balance

Sue Walker is the executive director of the Etowah Area Senior Citizens Center. She may be reached by calling 423-781-7632.

Sue Walker is the executive director of the Etowah Area Senior Citizens Center. She may be reached by calling 423-781-7632.

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