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Local News

MI Alzheimer’s Association urges continued efforts beyond awareness month


June was Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, but the Michigan Alzheimer’s Association says these should be year-round priorities.

More than 200,000 Michiganders over age 65 are living with Alzheimer’s – although only about half receive a doctor’s diagnosis. This can delay necessary care and future planning.

Kathryn Ribant Payne – communications director with the Alzheimer’s Association in Michigan – said this year, the focus is on educating the public about how to take control of their brain health.

She said when there’s a concern, early diagnosis is key.

“We’re kind of coming into an era of treatment where we’re seeing treatments come down the pipeline that necessitate early diagnosis,” said Ribant Payne. “So, if people are experiencing cognitive decline that they’ve noticed, or their family members have noticed, we really encourage them to speak with their healthcare provider.”

Ribant Payne said up to 40% of dementia cases could be caused by risk factors that a person could change by developing healthy habits.

These include challenging yourself by learning new things and staying in school.

Not smoking, getting regular exercise and properly managing other diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, also improve brain health.

She said protecting your head by wearing a helmet for activities like biking, is important – as well as eating a healthy diet and sleeping well.

She added that if you think it’s too late to improve your routine – you’re wrong.

“These things that we are talking about, as far as the healthy habits, are not something that you have to start when you’re in your 20s for them to do something,” said Ribant Payne. “Any little thing you can start at any time will affect your health in a way that can cause positive results.”

Ribant Payne emphasized that it’s critical for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease to seek respite and reach out for help themselves.

Michigan leads the nation in the number of caregiver hours – and about two-thirds of caregivers in the state report having a chronic health condition as a result of the stress.

This article is republished from the Public News Service under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article