provided by Kathleen Coffta
As we celebrate and honor the women in our lives on Mother’s Day it is important to remember that In the United States, 13 million women are either living with Alzheimer’s disease or caring for someone who has it, said Cathy James, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association Central New York Chapter.
Women in the United States are at the epicenter of this crisis, with research showing that women in their 60s are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease over the rest of their lives as they are to develop breast cancer. Right now, almost two-thirds of those living with Alzheimer’s disease are women.
“What this tells us is that it is important for women to be aware of the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease and to do what they can to take care of both their brain health and their bodies,’’ James said.
This is good advice for caregivers as well. “Being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia results in higher levels of depression and can have a number of negative impacts on a woman’s overall health,” James said. “We offer free access to support groups for caregivers because we understand how difficult it is to care for someone who is living with the disease.”
While there is no single “recipe” for brain health, scientists believe that regular cardiovascular activity may reduce your risk of cognitive decline. “It’s also very important to manage stress and get adequate sleep, “James said. This is often difficult for caregivers and that is where Alzheimer’s Association local support groups can help, she said. “We offer support via virtual meetings and we have started to meet in person again on a limited basis.”
Diet plays a role in overall heart and brain health as well and many researchers believe that “what’s good for the heart, may also be good for the brain,’’ she said. “Nutritious food is fuel for the brain, so make sure you are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables as part of an overall, well-balanced diet,’’ James said.
Keeping your mind active as you age is key because “cognitive activity encourages blood flow to the brain and also helps the brain form new connections among brain cells,’’ James said. You can do this by learning a new hobby, doing puzzles and games or engaging in ongoing learning.
Finally, staying socially engaged is critical, James said, because many researchers believe remaining both socially and mentally active may support brain health and possibly delay the onset of dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York Chapter offers virtual activities for caregivers and their loved ones including visiting museums, zoos and parks.
“It is so important for women, who often put their own health and well-being on the back burner to care for others, to take some time to focus on themselves,’’ James said. Mother’s Day is a good time to appreciate the caregivers in your life and to remind them to take time for self-care.
For more information on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias or to see what services are available locally, call our 24/7 hotline at 1-800-272-3900 or visit https://www.alz.org/centralnewyork
Photo of Grandmother with family provided by Alzheimer’s Association Central New York Chapter.
Photo of mother and daughter with a cell phone by Andrea Piacquadio from pexels.