Promoting Brain Health

What is Alzheimer’s?

Our brains age along with the rest of our bodies, and our abilities naturally change with age. T​his aging process is different from the disease process associated with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is not a part of normal aging. 

Dementia is a general term used to describe a decline in cognitive functioning. Findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine using the longstanding Framingham Heart Study suggest that dementia rates in the United States are dropping. This good news may be due to population reductions in high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for more than 70% of dementia diagnoses. Other forms of dementia include Vascular dementia, Lewy Bodies, and Frontotemporal dementia among others. Find more information about Alzheimer's disease – National Institutes of Health

According to the Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org), Alzheimer’s is a chronic and progressive disease, with symptoms of memory loss and impaired mental and physical capacity worsening over time. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation, take care of daily living tasks, and respond to their environment. Know the 10 signs to address early and get help

If you are concerned about a loved one or yourself – ask your health care provider to perform a brief assessment.
Cognitive screening is included in Medicare’s annual Wellness Visit.

Alzheimer's disease is the most expensive disease in our country.

Alzheimer's Disease in Vermont

Alzheimer’s affects 12,000 Vermonters and is now the state’s 5th leading cause of death. It is recognized as a chronic disease.

The Governor’s Commission on Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders was established in 1991 to take the lead on public health policy and coordination to identify and address the needs of those with Alzheimer’s and related disorders, and their caregivers and families.

Governor's Commission on Alzheimer's & Related Diseases
 

2015 Report to the Legislature

Vermont has a State Plan on Dementia that outlines strategies and resources to address its impact.

Vermont State Plan on Dementia

Free counseling with clinicians – and assistance with linking to local resources – is available 24/7 through the Alzheimer’s Association and its Vermont Chapter.
Call 800.272.3900

Healthy Heart, Healthy Brain

Numerous studies have found that people with diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, have a lower level of cognitive function and are at a higher risk for dementia than individuals without diabetes. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there is evidence that a healthy lifestyle that reduces risk from heart disease and diabetes may also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Behaviors such as healthy eating, exercise, and stress management may help to protect the brain like they do the heart. Sound nutrition and regular physical activity helps maintain a healthy weight, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.  

Limit saturated fats, eat whole grains, fruits, fish and vegetables. Walking and other simple exercises offer health benefits.

It’s never too late to adopt healthy lifestyle habits that reduce the risk of cognitive decline. For more information from the Alzheimer's Association (alz.org): 10 Ways to Love Your Brain

As outlined in this brief Smoking and Brain Health , smoking impacts brain health and increases the risk for developing Alzheimer’s. Within eight hours of quitting, the body’s oxygen levels are back to normal.

For free quit resources for you and your family: www.802Quits.org

The stress of caring for and living with a person who has Alzheimer’s can cause poor health and depression for the caregiver and family members. Vermont’s Area Agencies on Aging have created regional resource guides to help support caregivers and family members.

To find out more, go to Alz.org and review its community resources.