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Beacon holds part three of O.W.L.S. series

October 11, 2013
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

The Beacon of HOPE O.W.L.S. (Older, Wiser, Laughing Souls) held its third seminar "Memory... I Think," Friday. The three-part series highlighted health insurance, vision and in the final session memory.

This third meeting was about memory and Alzheimer's Disease.

Emily Reese, coordinator for the Alzheimer's Association, Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, began the session with a definition of Alzheimer's.

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Emily Reese addresses the group Friday.


"Alzheimer's is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and often changes in behavior," Reese said.

"These neurons use protein in their normal functioning," Reese said. "With the onset of Alzheimer's that protein alters and begins to produce plaques and tangles that clog the spaces between the neurons. As this condition increases the person is subject to memory loss and difficulty in thinking and speaking. Short term memory is affected."

Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia. Today there are about 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer's. About 70 percent of all those diagnosed with dementia are diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Signs of Alzheimer's include poor judgement and decision making, the inability to manage a budget, losing track of the date or even the season and misplacing things and being unable to retrace the steps to find them.

Memory loss can be caused by a variety of factors not associated with Alzheimer's: depression, medical side effects, excessive alcohol use, thyroid problems, poor diet, vitamin deficiencies and even infections.

However, if you are experiencing any of the following: memory loss that disrupts your daily life, challenged with planning or problem solving, having difficulty completing familiar tasks, experiencing confusion with time and place, trouble understanding visual images, having new problems with words, withdrawing from work or social activities or have changes in mood and personality, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Causes and risk factors include age, family history and genetics. But scientists have made connections between overall health (things you can control) and risk of Alzheimer's. People with diabetes, heart conditions, high blood pressure and high cholesterol have a higher risk of Alzheimer's. Keeping yourself healthier may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's gets worse over time and there are several stages that occur from mild symptoms to very severe cognitive decline. Only extensive testing can determine what stage of Alzheimer's the patient is in.

Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer's. However, there are drugs and non-drug treatments that can help with both cognitive and behavioral symptoms. Prescription medications that target specific symptoms have been proven to help under close doctor supervision.

This was the third, and final, session in the series. Each of the programs in the series included a free breakfast, gentle stretching, 20 minutes of knowledge presentation, as well as a basket raffle.

With the help of the Matlacha Hookers Afternoon Delights fund-raiser in April, the Beacon of H.O.P.E. was able to host the series.

The breakfast served corresponded with the session. For example they served food that will help an individual's vision in September, as well as foods to improve memory in October.

"The whole emphasis was to focus on helping seniors be more responsible and know about the resources available to them," said Julie Talmage, who is on the wellness committee for the Beacon of H.O.P.E.

The Alzheimer's Association HOTLINE is: 1-800-272-3900. They are available 27/7.

"Our primary fund-raiser at the Alzheimer's Association is our 'Walk to End Alzheimer's,'" Reese said at the end of the session. "We are having a 'Walk' on Oct. 26 at Centennial Park in Fort Myers. I would like to invite everyone to attend. Registration time is 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 10. You can help in the fight against Alzheimer's."



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