GAINESVILLE - It’s a health challenge in the homes of millions of Americans. According to Alzheimer's association, nearly one in every three seniors with Alzheimer's or another dementia dies each year. A new study showcases favorable results for the aging generation when it comes to mental exercises.
Aging is an inevitable part of life. It's even more difficult when your loved one is suffering from a disease like Alzheimer's, which is becoming significantly common. In fact, the Alzheimer's association reports that 16 million will have the disease by 2050. I take you inside of one of these homes-- who are doing what they can to beat the disease.
Maria Perez is an 86 year old resident of Gainesville. On a good day she enjoys listening to Latin singer, Celia Cruz. But sometimes there aren't enough good days to make up for the bad ones.
Perez’s grandson Prem Murrhee said, "Other times she might sit on the couch and you can tell that she's scared because she doesn't know where she is, who i am. You know, it's like what what I tell people we have really great memories together. They are becoming fewer and farther between but they're still good memories.”
Perez was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago. Her grandson says she's gotten progressively worse with time. It's a situation over 5 million Americans are dealing with. The Alzheimer's association predicts more than 60% of seniors in Florida will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's by 2025. But there may be ways to minimize the risks.
Dr. Michael Marsiske with the University of Florida is part of a 10 year study that shows how mental exercises can improve the elderly’s' style of living.
“We showed long term benefits on key factors associated with dementia so we showed maintained intellectual functioning and cognitive functioning, we showed improved performance on tasks of daily living," Dr. Marsiske said.
The research shows exercises involving reasoning and speed but not memory improve the cognitive abilities of older adults. This is why one couple in St. Augustine going beyond the memory puzzles and using music and sign language to engage with this generation. Linda & Will Stoler onto the next are behind an initiative called “Onto The Next," they hope to bring the project here to North Central Florida.
"The more you use the brain the healthier you're going to be and all of these aspects; the movement, the music, the signing, the meditation all of these aspects really integrate and activate more of the whole brain. Neuroplasticity-- that is the key. That basically states that the neurology of the brain fires new neurons, healthy neurons till the day you die," the Stoler’s said.
While this family can't slow down time, they are looking forward to these type of resources, which might just help create more good days. "Even if they don't remember it tomorrow. They know it right now. I mean, when she has a good day you could say, did you have a good day? She's going to say yes. She might not remember what she did but she knows that she had a good day. So it's really more about that feeling, and more about living in the present more than anything else," the Stoler’s said.
The Stoler's are coming up with a book called "Transforming Your Aging Brain," in the next couple of months. For more information on their initiative, click here.
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