Monday, November 02, 2009 National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month: Take Preventative Steps to Reduce Risk

/PRNewswire/ -- Every 70 seconds, an American is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, defined as a gradual loss of brain cells. It results in challenges in communicating, learning, thinking and reasoning that ultimately affect one's daily life.

Celebrated each November, National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month is designed to acknowledge progress being made against Alzheimer's disease and to show understanding and support for individuals with the disease and their families.

"This awareness month is the ideal opportunity to recognize that while there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, there are steps one can take to potentially reduce the risk of developing it," said Teepa Snow, nationally recognized expert in geriatrics and consultant for memory care programs for The Arbor Company, which operates senior communities in six states.

"Exercise is key. And exercise isn't just for keeping the body in shape. It's also exercise for the brain," Snow said. "And it is never too late to start these practices."

Studies indicate, for example, that brain exercise reduces seniors' risk of developing dementia by up to 63 percent.

The list of "brain exercises" she recommends includes physical and mental stimuli, plus wise dietary choices.


* keep the brain active - engage in activities such as card games, crossword puzzles, creative writing

* stay physically fit - jog, garden, dance, play video games

* reduce stress - maintain friendships, attend cultural activities, travel

* adopt a heart-healthy diet - eat foods high in antioxidants such as spinach, broccoli, corn, raisins, blueberries and almonds

"We recognize the importance of a healthy lifestyle and provide the opportunity to participate in all these activities at the Arbor Company communities. We even offer Wii tournaments," she said. "Many residents participate, and have lots of fun with it."

While Snow cautions that there are no guarantees that taking these steps will curb the effects of Alzheimer's disease, they have frequently proven beneficial.

"The key is to engage your mind and body," she said.

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