Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Understanding dementia, Alzheimer's disease and how the Dale can help

Most people with dementia remain undiagnosed by their primary care providers, and families often fail to recognize the significance of early cognitive symptoms. Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia is critical. It allows the individual and their family to learn and plan better for the future. There has been a growing interest in screenings for memory problems. A screening can check a person’s memory and other thinking skills. It can indicate if someone might benefit from a more complete medical visit. Early intervention means better quality of life. A person experiencing changes in memory can improve their ability to manage future affairs by seeking help as soon as possible. It is important to identify the disease or problem that is causing memory loss. Some memory problems can be readily treated, such as those caused by vitamin deficiencies or thyroid problems. Other memory problems might result from causes that are not currently reversible, such as Alzheimer’s disease. In general, the earlier the diagnosis, the easiest it is to treat one of these conditions. All individuals should be empowered to make informed decisions to better manage their own health, not discouraged from screening based. Memory screenings are a significant first step toward finding out if a person may have a memory problem. Memory problems could be caused by Alzheimer’s disease or other medical conditions. Who should be screened? Memory screenings make sense for anyone concerned about memory loss or experiencing warning signs of dementia; whose family and friends have noticed changes in them; or who believe they are at risk due to a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or a related illness. Questions to ask: Am I becoming for forgetful? Do I have trouble concentrating? Do I have trouble performing familiar tasks? Do I have trouble recalling words or names in conversation? Do I sometimes forget where I am or where I am going? Am I misplacing things more often? Have family or friends told me that I repeating questions or saying the same thing over and over again? Have I become lost when walking or driving? Have my family or friends noticed changes in my mood, behavior, personality or desire to do things? According to a recent survey by Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, 64% of individuals who responded to the study thought the behavioral symptoms (such as, irritability, anxiety) of the people they were caring for were a normal part of aging prior to their diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. 67% of these caregivers stated that these thoughts delayed the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging, but age is the greatest risk factor. The number of people with the disease doubles for every five-year age interval beyond 65. The memory screening test has 80 – 90% or higher probability of true or accurate screening results - similar to other established screening tests such as a mammography and Pap smear. And, a program for individuals in the early stages of memory impairment is available right here in Niagara County. The dementia-care program emphasizes memory enhancement through cognitive stimulation, education and socialization and is for people in the early stages of memory loss due to Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, Mild Cognitive Impairment, Parkinson’s disease, or any number of other diseases characterized by memory loss. Memory Minders a social program for individuals with mild memory loss is among The Dale Association’s community support services helping to improve the quality of life for adults. For more information about Memory Minders, The Dale Association, or its programs, please call Angie Blackly at 433-1886 extension 111 or via email at angie.blackley@daleassociation. Or, if you are looking for a fun way to keep the brain stimulated, maybe “Cranium Crunches” is something for you. Stomach crunches are a basic exercise for abdominal strength. Does that mean that cranium crunches will build strength in your cranium? You may have heard that the brain is plastic. As you know, the brain is not made of plastic….neuroplasticity (or brain plasticity) refers to the brain’s ability to change throughout life. The human brain has the amazing ability to reorganize itself by forming new connections between brain cells. For a long time it was believed that as we aged, the connections in the brain became fixed. Research has shown that in fact the brain never stops changing through learning. Plasticity is the capacity of the brain to change with learning. Changes associated with learning occur mostly at the level of the connections between neurons. New connections can form and the internal structure of the existing synapses can change. Cranium Crunches is one way to use brain plasticity to its capacity – to build your brain. Cranium Crunches is a program that uses brain games to stimulate new connections in the brain. It is a monthly program held on the third Tuesday of each month from 10:00 – 11:00am. The public is invited to participate at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario Street, Lockport. Please call 433-1886 to reserve your seat for January 15th and you will see that you want to mark your calendar for the third Tuesday of every month. The Dale Association is a unique non profit organization which has been responding to needs of adults in our Niagara community for 67 years. It has been said many times that our services help make lives better and we are proud to be able to do this for people with so many different needs. The Dale Association’s mission is to provide comprehensive services and coordinate connections for adults in Niagara and neighboring counties which enhance their health and wellness and empower them to build bridges into their communities. This important mission is the focal point of each program – including our Senior Services, Mental Health Services, Enrichment Activities, and Caregiver Support Services. Our Senior Services offer activities that enhance health, encourages community involvement, utilizes years of experience and allows for the development of friendships, as well as a sole local resource for the visually and hearing impaired. Memory Minders a social program for individuals with mild memory loss is also among The Dale Association’s community support services helping to improve the quality of life for adults. Our Mental Health Services have the clearly stated goal of assisting people to remain emotionally stable and living independently in the community. The Enrichment Activities are geared to developing and enhancing skills with the objective of adding to the quality of life. The goal of Caregiver Support Services is to help informal caregivers’ ability to manage and coordinate care. For more information about The Dale Association or its programs, please visit www.daleassociation.com or our blog at http://www.ExceptionalYouAtTheDale.blogspot.

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