ACT ON ALZHEIMER’S TEAMS UP WITH LOCAL PUBLIC HEALTH

Mankato Times

MANKATO, MINN. — According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 120,000 Minnesotans are expected to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by 2025, a 32 percent increase from 2016. Throughout Minnesota, 48 ACT on Alzheimer’s teams are preparing communities for the impact of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

The Mankato and North Mankato ACT on Alzheimer’s Action Team is working with local Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) grantees “Be Well,” serving Blue Earth County, and “Healthy Together,” serving Brown, Nicollet, Le Sueur and Waseca counties. Action Team activities, supported by a grant through SHIP, expand the awareness of Alzheimer’s and dementia in the region. The local Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging (MNRAAA), a resource helping older adults thrive, is the fiscal host for the grant and has been part of the Action Team since it convened.

Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia, is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., affecting one in three people over the age of 85. Causing a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills, it is not a normal part of aging.

While there is no way to prevent, treat or cure Alzheimer’s, scientists are looking at how lifestyle and wellness choices influence the disease. SHIP grantees are working with partners statewide to implement healthy lifestyle strategies; healthy eating, active living and tobacco-free living. A focus on dementia was added recently. Creating a supportive environment can help extend independent living for those with dementia.

The Action Team has been working hard to help people create dementia friendly communities. The Action Team hosts training events and implements dementia friendly strategies for businesses, health care, faith communities, government agencies, first responders and law enforcement. Members of the Action Team are trained by the Alzheimer’s Association to facilitate “Know the 10 Signs” and “The Basics: Memory Loss, Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia.”

Members of the community may also schedule these classes through the MNRAAA website https://mnraaa.org/act . A recent training, “Dementia and the Spirit: A Destination and a Journey,” hosted by the Action Team and presented by the Alzheimer’s Association MN-ND chapter, had 40 faith community leaders in attendance. They also use ACT on Alzheimer’s tool-kits and programs such as “Dementia Friendly @ Work.” The “Dementia Friends” presentation helps people understand what it is like to live with dementia and how they can turn understanding into action.

Compassionate volunteers representing several sectors of the community make up the Action Team. Many have been touched personally by Alzheimer’s. Leading the team is Sandi Lubrant, who lost her mom to Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body disease in 2012.

To learn more about Mankato and North Mankato ACT on Alzheimer’s, visit www.mnraaa.org/act . Families who need support can call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900.

Everywhere, someone with dementia and those who provide their tender care, face challenges as they navigate daily life. Heartfelt gratitude to the local ACT on Alzheimer’s Action Team for enhancing an environment where people learn to respond warmly and interact effectively with residents, their families and caregivers living with dementia.

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