Nancy Dezan at Positive Aging Fair

Nancy Dezan at Positive Aging Fair

I first heard Nancy Dezan speak about Alzheimer’s disease at the Positive Aging Fair in early fall. Her topic was “The Mind, Body & Spirit of Brain Health.” I heard her again speak on “Reducing Your Loss of Memory” at the Aging and Wellness Conference and Expo in McLean, Va, about a month later. Nancy is the dynamic Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Family Day Center, the only adult day center in Northern Virginia devoted completely to the care of Alzheimer’s clients. She is an Alzheimer’s disease educator with an extensive background in Alzheimer’s and an excellent public speaker.

In her speeches, she assured us that forgetting a person’s name soon after being introduced is not a “senior” problem; it’s a problem of not concentrating. In normal aging, everything slows down; cognitive ability slows down around 40.

If you lost your keys every day, that is not necessarily a red flag. But if you don’t know what to do with the keys, that’s a red flag. Everyone with Alzheimer’s knows something is wrong and they feel vulnerable. Hence, they put keys in odd places like the freezer because they know that the keys are valuable, but since there’s no short-term memory, they can’t remember where or why they put it in the freezer.

She referred to the Nun Study which showed that nuns who were always exercising their brain fared the best, not necessarily those that were the most intelligent, because it sparked new neurons. She offered many tips on how to keep the brain healthy as well as the body. What is good for the normal person is good for one with Alzheimer’s as well. She mentioned four risk factors — blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes. High levels of stress can affect the brain and it is especially important for caregivers to reach out and ask for help.

In my next post, I will introduce you to the Alzheimer’s Family Day Care Center.

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