Much of the past two years has been rightly focused on an acute public health crisis, with resources and public awareness campaigns centered around protecting those at risk – especially seniors — from COVID-19. As our society learns how to live with COVID-19, it’s time to refocus on supporting the overall health and well-being of older adults, including the preventive steps they can take to support their physical, mental and cognitive health.
Alzheimer’s and dementia represent a public health crisis that is not new, but that is increasing in severity as our senior population increases. The scope of the epidemic in the United States is surprising and oftentimes goes unnoticed. Throughout the country, 6.5 million adults have Alzheimer’s, with two thirds of that number being women. We are all at risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia as we age, raising the question “What can I do to keep this disease at bay?”.
Alzheimer’s deaths have increased 145% from 2000 to 2019, while other top causes of death like heart disease and breast cancer have declined. There is currently no cure and no treatment to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s, but great work is being done to lower the number of deaths and lives affected by this disease through preventive steps that help to delay some symptoms.
According to a recent review of research by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), there is “encouraging but inconclusive” evidence for three types of interventions to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s dementia or age-related cognitive decline: increased physical activity, blood pressure control and cognitive training. Studies and clinical trials are underway in these areas and more with the hope of building more evidence that healthy behaviors can be a weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s and dementia.
We are excited to team up with UsAgainstAlzheimers to provide free, evidence-based courses for health and wellness professionals about how to help people reduce their risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
We are proud to sponsor the Brain Health Academy, to help promote the connection between lifestyle interventions and brain health. The Brain Health Academy includes six courses covering the science and interventions for key modifiable risk factors for dementia, including nutrition, sleep, social isolation and loneliness, physical inactivity, and hypertension. Developed in collaboration with highly respected partners who have expertise in each area, the courses will be taught by preeminent experts using content drawn from the latest research.
The Academy launched in June 2022 and each month’s session will focus on different ways to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s. The Academy is designed to equip healthcare providers and wellness professionals with the knowledge and resources to help people reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s and related dementias. This includes helping people understand the connection between lifestyle interventions and brain health.
Tivity Health will sponsor the “Physical Activity and Dementia” course on October 19. Attendees will learn about the link between physical activity and dementia, as well as effective interventions and strategies to address physical activity. They will also have an opportunity to find out more about the modifiable risk factors for dementia and special considerations for high-risk populations.
The seminar will feature Liz Joy, MD, MPH, FACSM, FAMSSM, Intermountain Healthcare, Senior Medical Director, Wellness and Nutrition; Office of Health Promotion and Wellness and Adjunct Professor, Family & Preventive Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine; Laurie Whitsel, Ph.D., Vice President of Policy Research and Translation for the American Heart Association (AHA), Senior Advisor for the Physical Activity Alliance, and Dr. Justin Barclay, DBA, CAP, VP, Consumer Insights and Analytics at Tivity Health.
Physical inactivity is one of the known modifiable risk factors for dementia. People who are physically active are less likely to experience a decline in their mental function and have a lowered risk of developing dementia. The course moves from knowledge to application by providing actionable guidance and tools to help providers effectively address this opportunity with patients and families.
It’s important for us to highlight the amazing connection between physical fitness and preventive measures for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Through Tivity Health’s involvement with the brain health academy, our live online workshops and the virtual learning opportunities offered through GetSetUp, we strive to support both the physical and cognitive health of SilverSneakers members.
At Tivity Health, we understand the importance of providing our members with meaningful steps and opportunities for long-lasting health and vitality. We offer a number of solutions that not only help members feel better and build strength, but also support their cognitive and emotional health.
We advance vitality through our healthy lifestyle brands.
SilverSneakers is the nation’s leading program designed specifically for seniors, promoting greater health engagement and accountability through regular exercise (e.g., strength training, aerobics, flexibility) and social opportunities at up to 22,000 locations nationwide and online through SilverSneakers Live and On-Demand. However, our offerings go beyond fitness. Our online instructors offer workshops on topics such as nutrition, falls prevention and stress reduction. This year, we launched an eight-week workshop on SilverSneakers Live that focuses on cognitive health.
Even though this month will come to an end, it doesn’t mean we should stop the conversation about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and the healthy behaviors that support healthy aging.
To learn more, visit www.usagainstalzheimers.org.