September 22, 2010 Edition

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Alzheimer's awareness

John Bland

The Pocahontas Star Herald has done a commendable job promoting Alzheimer's awareness in recent issues. Staff writer Susan Johnson wrote a series of stories about local families sharing their family member's battle with the disease.

The fourth annual Pocahontas Alzheimer's Arkansas Walk will be Saturday at Riverfront Park in Pocahontas.

Team registration and other activities will begin at 9 a.m. All proceeds will help benefit educational programs and family services for Arkansas residents affected by Alzheimer's. As Star Herald editor Anita Murphy wrote, Alzheimer's patients cannot speak for themselves. Regarding Alzheimer's, I was pleased to read in the USA Weekend feature titled "Stay Sharp" that "coffee is the new brain tonic" and one of 10 surprising strategies to combat the disease. The list is from Jean Carper's book, "100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer's and Age-Related Memory Loss." Another strategy is flossing to help protect the health of teeth and gums. Experts believe that inflammation in diseased mouths can migrate to the brain.

Other strategies are common sense things, such as getting a 30-minute brisk walk or other comparable exercise daily, getting strenuous mental activity, avoiding obesity and avoiding sleep deprivation.

Most important of all, is research showing that Alzheimer's, similar to heart disease and cancer, develops over decades and is influenced by lifestyles. The idea that Alzheimer's is entirely genetic is a misconception.

The first day of fall is Thursday, Sept. 22. Fall is the favorite season of many and would be a great time for us to start or renew efforts to protect our health.

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