Multifaceted Approach

The new Healthy Aging Series tackles important topics such as brain-boosting foods and the differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s, providing caregivers, professionals and more with practical training and information.

By: Dr. Nestor H. Praderio

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Our individual interpretations of “healthy” lead us down many paths in the pursuit of long and active lifestyles, and the complex facets of aging well in today’s society can be overwhelming. Learning as much as possible about your or a loved one’s specific illness or disease can be essential to managing the quality of your health as you age.

The Healthy Aging Series, presented by Face to Face LLC, was created to enhance our existing community education focus. It is a new educational forum in which we can accommodate issues that are in direct response to the interests and desires of our community. Each session includes an expanded focus beyond the field of brain health that will envelop all aspects of adopting a lifestyle complementary to achieving our individual goals for healthy aging.

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It was an honor to present the first topic of the inaugural Healthy Aging Series, entitled “Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s – Discerning the Difference.” The confusion surrounding dementia and Alzheimer’s is not uncommon. Families often suspect that “something is not right with mom’s memory” and may erroneously assume that it is Alzheimer’s. There is a definite distinction between dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Dementia is the development of multiple cognitive deficits that include memory impairment and at least one of the following:

• Aphasia (inability to communicate effectively)
• Agnosia (inability to correctly recognize familiar people or objects)
• Apraxia (inability to perform motor tasks or activities of daily living such as brushing teeth or dressing)

I often describe dementia as the umbrella that makes up a group of symptoms and can be caused by a variety of disorders that affect the brain.

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Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other key mental functions and influences behavioral changes. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and it is the most common cause of dementia. Thus, Alzheimer’s is one of the types under the dementia umbrella. Other types of dementia are vascular, Lewy body, frontotemporal, Parkinson’s and alcohol-related.

The second topic, entitled “Brain-Boosting Foods,” was presented by Grete McCoy, registered dietitian. McCoy shared with us the top brain-healthy foods and also discussed barriers to proper nutrition.

Brain-healthy foods:
• Fatty fish with omega-3 fatty acids
• Leafy green and cruciferous vegetables (contain antioxidants)
• Avocado, oils, nuts and seeds
• Chocolate, especially dark varieties (contain flavonoids linked to brain health)
• Curry
• Berries
• Whole grains
• Water
• Alcohol (in moderation)
• Coffee

Barriers to proper nutrition:
• Poor dentition
• Depression
• Loneliness
• Preparing food for one
• Changes in taste
• Increased need for nutrients
• Access to fresh foods

Each presentation was followed by a robust question and answer period.

“Dr. Praderio’s presentation on differentiating between dementia and Alzheimer’s was sensitive, informative and easily understood,” said Greg Hackett, pastor of the First United Methodist Church.

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“Over 150 participants, including approximately 75 church members, took away a deeper understanding of the dynamics of cognitive illness, and the importance of prevention and early diagnosis. I recommend any future Healthy Aging events for anyone with aging parents or having concerns with a partner or friend.”

“I would say that churches are often a point of reference within many urban and rural communities within the Coastal Bend,” said Billy Scoggins, R.N., Wesley nurse with Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas Inc.

“The collaboration with First United Methodist Corpus Christi and the Face to Face organization in providing educational programs on ALZ and dementia help to bring a holistic perspective to a tender subject. The church can provide a comfortable and nonjudgmental environment to discuss the emotional subject of family and caregivers dealing with cognitive changes in a loved one. Regardless of age or religion, it is about serving the spiritual needs of the local community.”

We are grateful for our partnership with Hackett and First United Methodist Church, and Scoggins and Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, as well as the entire staff for making the event on June 30 possible. We appreciate the Community Resource and Business Products/Services exhibitors for their participation and community support. It is my pleasure and a privilege to work with such dedicated individuals.

Our hope is for the community to embrace our multifaceted approach in conveying practical training and knowledge to caregivers, professionals and other interested participants.

We invite workplace business and corporate CEOs, HR executives, local and state government administrators and other general decision-makers to consider adopting healthy aging strategies for their workforce.

For more information about the next Healthy Aging Series session or other events from Face to Face, call 361-238-7777, visit our website at www.texasfacetoface.com or follow us at www.facebook.com/texasfacetoface.

Photos courtesy of fotosearch, group photo by Lisa Oliver for Face to Face, LLC

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