Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s

Take the Healthy Body, Healthy Brain Pledge

As important as it is to take good care of your body, it’s equally critical that you keep your brain healthy.

That is why DHEC is partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association South Carolina ChapterThe American Heart Association and Eat Smart Move More South Carolina to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and brain health.

As part of the awareness campaign, the partners are encouraging people to Take Brain Health to Heart and pledge to keep their body, heart and brain healthy. The Healthy Body, Healthy Brain pledge can be found at www.scdhec.gov/brainhealthpledge.

The intent is quite simple: to motivate South Carolinians to protect their brain health by taking proactive steps such as being more active and eating better. Research has shown that smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes may contribute to cognitive decline. It has also found that unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity and brain injury may affect the health of the brain.

The campaign features a centralized DHEC Brain Health webpage. People who visit the page and take the pledge are entered into a monthly drawing for a Fitbit; the drawings end June 30. Please visit the webpage at www.scdhec.gov/brainhealth and take the pledge.

Pledge to keep your body, heart and brain healthy

DHEC is partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association South Carolina Chapter, The American Heart Association and Eat Smart Move More South Carolina to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and brain health.

Protect your body, heart and brain

DHEC and its partners will collaborate on a campaign that encourages people to Take Brain Health to Heart. A key element of the effort is a pledge — which can be found at www.scdhec.gov/brainhealthpledge — that encourages residents to keep their body, heart and brain healthy.

The campaign is designed to educate and mobilize South Carolinians to protect their brain health by being more active, eating better and taking other steps. Research has shown that smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes may contribute to cognitive decline. It has also found that unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity and brain injury may affect the health of the brain.

Message key for S.C.’s aging population

This is an important message in South Carolina, whose population is getting older. While Alzheimer’s and dementia are not a normal part of aging, getting older is the greatest risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, 84,000 people over the age of 65 are reported to be living with Alzheimer’s disease in South Carolina.  By 2025, that number is expected to grow to 120,000, according to the SC Alzheimer’s disease registry report. South Carolina has one of the fastest-aging adult populations in the country, ranking in the top 10. That population is expected to increase to 1.1 million by 2029, resulting in one in five South Carolinians being over age 65.

South Carolina is one of seven states to receive funding to reduce stigma, promote early diagnosis and address risk reduction factors associated with cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The effort is funded by a collaborative that includes the Alzheimer’s Association, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Take the pledge

Over the next few months, DHEC, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Heart Association and Eat Smart Move More will jointly focus on messaging regarding heart and brain health and cognitive decline.

The campaign will feature a centralized DHEC Brain Health webpage. Each partner organization will have a link to the page, which will include health education materials, social media messages and a call to action in the form of a pledge about healthy lifestyle changes. People who visit the page and take the pledge will be entered into a monthly drawing for a Fitbit, beginning this month and ending June 30. Please visit the webpage at www.scdhec.gov/brainhealth and take the pledge.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and Family Caregiver Month

By Michele James
S.C. Dept. of Health & Environmental Control
Division of Healthy Aging

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and Family Caregiver Month. Given the close relationship between the two observances — many with Alzheimer’s are fortunate to have committed caregivers — it seems natural for them to occur during the same month.

Raising awareness about Alzheimer’s

The Division of Healthy Aging is partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease and evidence-based messages about risk reduction.

From 2000 to 2010, South Carolina’s older adult population grew by 32.1 percent, putting the state in the top 10 fastest growing older adult populations.  South Carolina has the 6th highest Alzheimer’s disease rate in the nation.  In 2015, 17.3 percent of South Carolinians 65 and older had Alzheimer’s  disease; by 2025 the percentage will go up to 48.1 percent.

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, a general term used to describe various diseases and conditions that damage brain cells. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Other types include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia. In some cases, a person may have more than one type and are said to have mixed dementia.

The most important risk factors — age, family history and heredity — can’t be changed, but emerging evidence suggests there may be other factors we can influence. Research has found the health of the brain is very closely tied to the health of the body, particularly the heat.  They have found conclusively that high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity all confer greater risk for cognitive decline. However, evidence also suggests that combining good nutrition with mental, social and physical activities may have a greater benefit in maintaining or improving brain health than any single activity.

‘Take Care to Give Care’

November is National Caregivers month and the theme is “Take Care to Give Care.” There are 90 million caregivers in the United States who provide full-time or part-time care for someone with an illness, injury or disability. Caregiving has its rewards, but it can be physically and emotionally taxing.

Meeting the needs of others can mean that caregivers neglect their own wellness by not getting adequate rest or proper nutrition. Studies show caregivers are twice as likely as the general population to develop chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes asthma and other health problems due of prolonged stress.

So this November let us take the time to show our appreciation for caregivers and encourage them to take care of themselves.  Here are some things caregivers can do to relieve stress and look out for themselves:

  • Work hard to maintain personal interests, hobbies and friendships.
  • Allow yourself not be the perfect caregiver. Set reasonable expectations to lower stress.
  • Delegate some caregiving tasks to other reliable people.
  • Take a break. Short breaks, like an evening walk or relaxing bath are essential.
  • Don’t ignore signs of illness. Take Care to Give Care!

For more information/resources on caregiving, please visit: cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/resources.htm

For specific information on caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease visit the SC Alzheimer’s Association Chapter at alz.org/sc or call the toll free number 1-800-272-3900.

Also, please visit the Alzheimer Association Training and Education Center to find free online courses training.alz.org/home.

National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

By Beth M. Sulkowski, Vice President of Communications & Advocacy, Alzheimer’s Association, South Carolina Chapter

Alzheimer_Awareness_iStock_000007095887_Large

In 1983, when November was designated as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, fewer than 2 million Americans had the disease. Today, the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s has soared to more than 5 million.  An estimated 81,000 South Carolinians are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is expected to grow 48 percent to 120,000 people affected by 2025.

While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, early detection and diagnosis is critical to ensure that those living with Alzheimer’s have the power to plan their own health care and future. Those who receive an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can gain the best possible benefits from current medications, play an active role in decisions about treatment and care, and even participate in Alzheimer’s clinical trials of treatments being developed.

Many people think of Alzheimer’s disease as a normal part of aging, or simply memory loss.  While age is the greatest known risk factor, the reality is that Alzheimer’s can strike as early as in a person’s 30s, 40s, or 50s. It also impacts far more than a person’s ability to remember names or recall where they left their keys.

The Alzheimer’s Association teaches warning signs to help people recognize when they might need to consult a doctor about changes in a loved one or in themselves.

10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or during leisure time
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

Individuals may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees, so if you recognize any of these signs, please talk to a doctor right away.  For more information, please visit the national Alzheimer’s Association or the South Carolina Chapter’s webpage.