Sunday, October 25, 2015

Beating the Odds: Maintaining Heart and Brain Health

by Mary Haberman

“Healthier Habits for a Healthier You,” the latest To Your Health program, took place on October 22nd, sponsored by the Western Mountains Senior College, SAD 44 Adult Ed, the Bethel Family Health Center, and the Maine Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. This event was a follow-up to a previous Alzheimer’s program and was presented by Mark Pechenik, Director of  Outreach and Engagement for the Maine Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Mark Pechenik speaks with Iris Roberts.

With some 40 in attendance, Mr. Pechenik reviewed the risk factors for the development of dementia, the importance of maintaining heart and brain health, and ways to beat the odds. Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s and no guarantees for prevention, the latest research suggests that there are ways to reduce the risk or at least improve quality of life.  One’s predisposition to Alzheimer’s Disease can be affected by genes, environment, lifestyle, and age, with age being the strongest determinant. Among the risk factors are high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, head injuries, and depression.  

The one factor that we can change is lifestyle. Pechenik suggests that people Develop A Plan, which should include 1) cognitive activity (puzzles, learning a language); 2) physical activity (avoid TV); 3) sound eating habits (the Mediterranean Diet); and 4) social engagement. It is wise to start slowly, do things you enjoy, reward yourself, and enlist the aid of friends to stick with The Plan.

Mr. Pechenik gave anecdotal information about his ongoing work with early-stage Alzheimer’s groups and summarized by stressing the importance of getting information from professionals rather than some questionable website. The presentation was informative and well received.

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