LiveWise at the YMCA, Part 4

Regular physical exercise may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and certain foods may also help protect the brain.

Information on both is part of the LiveWise program. It’s a partnership between the Alzheimer’s Association, the YMCA of Marquette County, Community Care at Lake Superior Hospice and the Brain and Spine Center at Marquette General Hospital.

“They now have a little social group of individuals who are having the same experience that they are, who are going through the same things they are,” Lake Superior Hospice CEO Carol Carr said. “Care givers can lean on other caregivers and say are you seeing this, are you noticing this, are you struggling with this. It gives them that social network and it comes back to that quality of life piece. We are giving them all of these tools to say make the most with the time you’ve got.”

The LiveWise program in Marquette County was well received. Participants learned about diet, exercise, stress management and the reality of the disease.  Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of growing older, but the greatest risk factor for the disease is increasing age. After age 65, the risk of Alzheimer’s doubles every five years.  After age 85, the risk reaches nearly 50 percent.

“There are certain warning signs that we look for,” Marquette General Hospital neurologist Dr. Roman Politi said. “Certainly someone who is starting to notice trouble with their memory. Not just a one time incident, forgetting their keys or misplacing a paper. But when it becomes reoccurring, it’s been ongoing and there’s no other obvious answer. They are not stressed out; there’s nothing medically going on that would account for their impairment.”

An estimated 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s.

It’s the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Carr said, “It was a huge leap of faith for all of us. We all thought this was a great idea.  We are really onto something here without really knowing if anyone else was going to agree with us. And we did it, and we’ve seem huge success.”

But, more research is needed to understand how the disease develops.

Clinical trials are available for those with the disease, their family members and others.

To learn more about the disease, treatments and clinical trials you might be able to participate in, we have it for you elsewhere on our website.