For Alzheimer's Awareness Month, learn and plan with loved ones
June 1, 2017
June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, a good time for Alaskans to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and talk with loved ones about options for care and maintaining love, laughter and social interaction in everyday life.
Studies indicate that the ability to “to engage in meaningful time use and social behavior” is key to quality of life for those diagnosed with dementia. Among other factors, quality of life can be affected by maintaining or cultivating social relationships and a sense of community. The Alzheimer’s Association of Alaska informs us that “human beings are naturally social creatures; (who) tend to thrive in communities and deteriorate with isolation. Studies show that staying connected helps to maintain a healthy brain.”
They recommend social activities like volunteering, joining clubs or teams, taking classes or visiting community centers to stay connected and promote brain health.
As the disease progresses, some of these activities may seem more difficult to achieve, but the need remains. Caregivers will be tasked with finding ways to provide stimulation and socialization.
As Alaska’s population ages — we have the fastest aging population in the country — more Alaskans will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and more Alaskans will find themselves taking on the role of caregiver. How can caregivers provide that quality of life while also balancing other responsibilities and needs?
One increasingly popular option is adult day services, where seniors with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive diseases can join in classes and activities alongside peers, while supported by care professionals like registered nurses.
This model not only keeps seniors active and engaged, it also provides caregivers the option of maintaining regular employment or taking time for self care. Caregivers and family members are usually welcome to join in the fun as well.
Koreen Mateaki owns and operates Turnagain Social Club, an adult day center in Anchorage providing activities, socialization and dedicated staff trained in Alzheimer’s care.