UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – Change in memory is normal as we age. Sometimes that change becomes worrisome as a parent, grandparent or loved one begins having difficulty communicating. June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month – an opportunity to hold a conversation about the brain, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and raise awareness about this growing health issues.

“The number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease is growing,” said Jason Bombard, DO, psychiatrist for Aspirus Health. “Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are irreversible. Both are a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. Although we do not yet have a cure there are things that can be done to help both the patient and their families cope with this disease.”

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates 6.2 million people of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. Every day, thousands of families are forever changed by Alzheimer’s disease. Aspirus Health offers some signs and symptoms to keep top of mind:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily activities.
  • Challenges in solving problems or learning new things.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
  • Misplacing things and the inability to retrace steps.
  • Trouble handling money or paying bills.
  • Mood and personality changes.
  • Wandering or getting lost.

Research suggests certain things can help your brain stay young as you grow older. Dr. Bombard shares these tips to keep your brain healthy:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Remain socially involved and active.
  • Protect your head.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol.
  • Engage in new thought-provoking activities.

“Research shows using your muscles also helps keep your mind healthy,” Dr. Bombard said. “Those who exercise regularly increase the oxygen to the region of the brain that is responsible for thoughts. It is also very important to continuously exercise the brain. Research has also show that people who engage in learning activities and new experiences keep their brains healthy longer.”

Aspirus Health offers care for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other memory disorders as well as hosts support group gatherings. For more information or to find these offerings near you, visit aspirus.org.

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