If you haven’t seen this recent issue of AARP The Magazine, I encourage you to take a look at the cover story because it addresses topics that are front and center here at the AARP Public Policy Institute: family caregiving and dementia.
Dementia is an increasingly prevalent condition that millions of families must deal with every day. It can be taxing—emotionally, physically, and financially—for all involved, and people are understandably looking for help wherever they can find it. However, there could be a big disconnect between how health care providers prescribe drugs used to treat the condition and what is supported by clinical evidence, a new AARP Public Policy Institute report finds.
If there’s one food that people associate with Valentine’s Day, it’s chocolate. More than half of those celebrating are expected to give candy this year, spending 1.8 billion dollars on sweet treats, according to the National Retail Federation. Although studies that find chocolate is good for your brain grab headlines, this Valentine’s Day consider skipping the candy and instead spending quality time with loved ones.
In February, we are surrounded by hearts. They’re everywhere—in the grocery store, shopping malls and email inboxes. You may also hear more about heart health, because February is American Heart Month. Taking steps to strengthen your heart yields a bonus—you’ll be protecting your brain as well.
As the executive director of the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), I am always on the lookout for brain-healthy foods. I scan grocery aisles for chocolate bars with more than 70 percent cocoa, feel that I’m stimulating my brain when I down my morning coffee and even feel virtuous when drinking a glass or two of red wine. Turns out all my assumptions have been wrong.
In April 2015, the Institute of Medicine released a groundbreaking report on what older Americans can do to keep their brains healthy. The report said that obesity was likely to increase the risk of cognitive decline. The same month, a major study in the British medical journal Lancet found that being underweight in middle age and old age is linked to an increased risk for dementia. Confused? You’re not alone. This is just one example of scientific reports that generate conflicting news headlines. Do brain games work to strengthen memory? Does lifting weights and practicing yoga make a difference? Can certain foods decrease risk of dementia?
Many of you, like me, know that family caregiving for someone you love can be a source of deep satisfaction and meaning. But caring for a person with dementia, known as dementia caregivers, can exact an especially high emotional, physical and financial toll on family members themselves.
A couple of weeks back, we unveiled our new caregiving ad — starring a unique caregiver. You may recognize him as the antihero from Machete or Breaking Bad, but you would never assume he’s just like you. That’s right, actor Danny Trejo is a caregiver and he is showing just how tough male caregivers are.
In 2016, an estimated 5.4 million Americans had Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. And while people of all ages can have dementia, 8.8 percent of adults age 65 and over have the disease.
AARP is proud to partner with Next Day Better to share a monthlong series of stories of caregiving within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities.
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