Brain Health: Facts about dementia
Nearly 89% of Americans say that if they were showing signs of confusion and memory loss, they would want to know if the cause was Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. Dementia is a general word for loss of memory and other mental abilities that is serious enough to interfere with daily life. Dementia is caused by physical changes in the brain.
Brain health is important at all life stages, from pregnancy through the end of life. Whether you have a loved one with declining brain health or you want to learn steps to help prevent dementia, we know it can be overwhelming to consider what’s next on the journey. Lorain County Public Health (LCPH) encourages you to read this overview on brain health facts and to connect to local services.
Find support for caregivers:
LCPH knows that caregivers are crucial to the health of their loved ones, which is why it’s important for you to take care of you. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 3 Alzheimer’s caregivers report that their health has become worse due to care responsibilities. If you or a loved one care for someone with dementia, find people who understand what you’re going through.
The Alzheimer's Association Cleveland Chapter hosts support groups in Lorain County. Trained facilitators guide the exchange of practical information on caregiving and possible solutions.
- Grafton - meets monthly on the 3rd Monday of every month, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m., Grafton United Methodist Church, 973 Mechanic St.
- Oberlin - meets monthly on the 4th Tuesday of every month, 2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m., First Church in Oberlin, 106 N Main St.
- Avon - meets monthly 1st Wednesday of every month, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m., Alzheimer's Association Office, 37309 Harvest Drive
LIFE: A Dementia Friendly Foundation equips caregivers and people living with dementia with programming proven to improve their quality of life. LIFE’s Vermilion location, which meets twice each week, provides music memory and art therapy programs. Contact them at 440-935-3506 or dflife.org for more details and locations.
Local long-term care facilities often offer memory education and memory care units. Call a nursing home or assisted living location near you to learn more.
Reduce the risk for dementia:
- Maintain a healthy heart. According to research, there is a link between the health of the brain and of the heart. Keep your heart healthy by staying physically active and by eating fruits and vegetables. Quit smoking, manage stress and keep blood pressure at a healthy level.
- Avoid or manage chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. Keeping the body healthy helps keep a person better protected against cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer's.
- Keep the brain active. Try reading, puzzles, learning a new hobby or volunteering. An active brain is linked to lower risks of dementia.
- Encourage education. Getting more years of formal education may help prevent dementia. Encourage young adults in your life to finish a degree, or offer to watch their children so they can take evening classes.
- Keep your friends close. Research suggests a link between social connections and brain health. Keeping strong social connections may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
For more information on how to reduce your risk of dementia and other chronic diseases, call LCPH at 440-322-6367.
Know the early signs of dementia:
- Poor judgment and decision-making
- Inability to manage a budget
- Losing track of the date or the season
- Difficulty having a conversation
Do a web search for Alz 10 signs to read the Alzheimer's Association's “10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's.” Be brave and talk to your healthcare providers. They can help you find out if your symptoms are caused by dementia. Or, you might have a potentially reversible issue, such as depression or a vitamin B12 deficiency. A formal dementia diagnosis allows individuals and their caregivers to get access to treatments, build a care team, identify support services, and plan for the future.