Clarendon Hills, IL, June 10, 2015 --(PR.com
)-- On June 9, Jackie Raschke, the Director of Encore and Memory Care Services at The Birches Assisted Living, delivered a presentation to Birches residents titled “Memory Matters” to explain why brain health is one of the most important factors in successful aging.
According to Raschke, even those with seemingly healthy brains should realize that Alzheimer’s disease begins many years before symptoms appear. In fact, some studies say the disease begins as many as 30 years prior to the onset of symptoms. The top two contributing factors in developing Alzheimer’s are genetics and age, however, lifestyle also plays an important role in the disease.
“We have to make smarter lifestyle choices to help prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia,” said Raschke. “Even though we can’t change our genetics or the fact that we are getting older, we can change how well we care for our mental and physical health. And, believe me, you will be glad you made these changes while you can still remember to make them.”
In her presentation, Raschke explained what dementia is and what it isn’t. For example, many people don’t realize that dementia is more than just memory loss. People with dementia deal with many other symptoms, including a shortened attention span, the inability to recognize common objects, loss of communication skills and irritability. Raschke also explained the difference between dementia and normal forgetfulness.
“If you occasionally forget a person’s name or lose your keys, it doesn’t mean you have dementia,” said Raschke. “If you forget what to do with your keys or who a family member is, it’s time to visit your doctor.”
The difference between the terms “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s” was addressed in Raschke’s presentation as well, to clear up the common belief that they are interchangeable terms.
“Dementia is an umbrella term, which means it applies to a broad set of brain related disorders with similar symptoms but different causes,” said Raschke. “If you have Alzheimer’s, you have dementia, but if you have dementia, you don’t necessarily have Alzheimer’s.”
The most important message Raschke wanted to relay in her presentation, however, is that everyone can make changes that will decrease their chances of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia. Healthy lifestyle behaviors like keeping your brain stimulated, exercising your body and eating healthy have been shown time and time again to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. For example, one study demonstrated that people who are obese by the time they are 40 to 59 years old are four times more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s than those of a healthy weight. Another study showed that people with less than 12 years of education have a 15 percent greater risk of developing dementia than people with 12 to 15 years education and a 35 percent greater risk than those with more than 15 years of education.
According to Raschke, the later years of life can be a great time to rediscover old passions, pursue new hobbies and reflect on years gone by— but this becomes much harder to do with a brain that is not willing to cooperate. By teaching Birches residents how to maintain a healthy brain, Raschke hopes to help them enjoy their lives for many years to come.
“Memory matters because it enables us to continue living fun and productive lives and allows us to express our unique personalities until the very end,” said Raschke. “A healthy mind and working memory are absolutely necessary to live your life to the fullest at any age.”
The Birches Assisted Living in Clarendon Hills is a premier retirement community dedicated to providing professional services that support its residents’ physical, social, intellectual and spiritual growth. The Birches offers a full calendar of purposeful programs and activities designed to promote a healthy aging lifestyle and a strong sense of community. For more information about The Birches, call 630-789-1135 or visit: birches.net.