Learn how to help loved ones during Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

Reception area at Henry Mayo Fitness and Health in Valencia. Courtesy photo.

Throughout Southern California, the Alzheimer’s Association will provide families and caregivers with programs addressing several facets of Alzheimer’s as part of their push for healthy living throughout the month of June, also known as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” said Evelyn Pacis, programs and education specialist. “Alzheimer’s disease is one of the top 10 causes of death in the United States with 6 million people living with it. That number is expected to triple in the years going into 2050.”

The most recent program, held on June 7 at Henry Mayo Fitness and Health Center, discussed the middle stage of Alzheimer’s. The program provided visitors with information about symptoms of the middle stage, such as memory decline, changes in behavior and increased problems while performing daily tasks.

Other programs focused on the early stages talk about building up a support circle and understanding what health care providers and resources are available, while courses on the later stages delve into end-of-life care, as well as legal and financial planning following the death of a loved one.

Though June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, these programs will go on more frequently as the baby boomer generation enters retirement age and reaches a greater risk of having symptoms and being diagnosed with the disease, Pacis said.

“We break it up because it’s impossible to fit in those key messages into one hour,” she said. “In addition to those caregiver workshops, we dive in more thoroughly when it comes to communication and behaviors learned experience, and take opportunities for families to feel they’ve got that backing through this journey.”

Other programs have focused on how to respond to dementia-related behavior, understanding the top 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s and how to prepare and prevent wandering. The Alzheimer’s Association even offered a Spanish-language class last week to help the caregivers of those who are in the intermediate stages of the disease.

The Alzheimer’s Association helpline offers services for people in more than 200 languages, Pacis noted.

“One thing that we’re aware of is there are families who speak different languages and are intergenerational, so discussing about the disease is not a one-size, fits-all subject,” she said.

Every 65 seconds, a person living in the United States develops Alzheimer’s Disease, and only 16% of seniors receive the regular cognitive assessments needed during routine check-ups, according to the association’s website.

A follow-up to Friday’s “Caring for someone in the Middle Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease” will take place again at Henry Mayo Fitness and Health Center on June 14 at 1 p.m.

For a full list of programs and where they will be located across the Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, go to alz.org/socal/helping_you/education.

The Alzheimer’s Association also has a helpline that can be reached at any time, at 800-272-3900.

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About the author

Ryan Mancini

Ryan Mancini

Ryan Mancini covers local news for The Signal. He joined in 2018 and previously worked as a reporter and editor for The Sundial, Scene Magazine and El Nuevo Sol while enrolled as a student at California State University, Northridge, where he studied journalism and political science. He's lived in Santa Clarita since 2002.