June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

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June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia, a disease that attacks the brain and it is defined as a progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age due to generalized degeneration of the brain. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. It is a progressive disease, symptoms gradually worsen over the years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but late-stage dementiacan affect an individual’s ability to communicate and respond to his or her environment. Early-onset Alzheimer’s occurs between ages 30 and mid-60srepresenting less than 10% of people with Alzheimer’s. Research suggest there are changes in the brain that may begin at least a decade before memory or other cognitive problems appear. Even though people may seem to be symptom free, there are toxic changes taking place in the brain.

There are an estimated 47 million people worldwide and 5.5 million Americans of all ages living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and without a change, this number is expected to grow to 76 million by 2030. Some of the signs of dementia are:

  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life

These are common signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, but remember each person is different. Only a doctor can diagnosis someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. A strong support network including support groups that allow caregivers to express concerns, share experiences, receive emotional support, find respite care, and have good coping skills are ways caregivers handle and relieve stress as they navigate with their loved ones on this journey.

May is National Mental Health Month

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May is National Mental Health Month

May is National Mental Health Month. Created in 1949, National Mental Health Month was established with the purpose of promoting the importance and awareness of mental wellness and mental health in all American’s lives, and to reduce the stigma people experience with a mental health diagnosis. Stigma continues to prevent people from seeking appropriate treatment. Suffering with untreated mental illness sometimes will cause individuals to self-medicate, with substances from alcohol to prescription drug abuse.

This past year has highlighted the need for mental health awareness in every aspect of our lives including how people suffered from isolation, grief, financial insecurity, food instability and sickness. We have seen and heard how the pandemic has created barriers to treatment, which is especially considering how one in six youth (6 – 17 years old) experience a mental health disorder and one in five adults experience mental illness each year. These conditions include depression, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

National Mental Health Month also focuses on mental health resilience. Resilient mental health can be defined as being able to cope with the ups and downs of life, and to maintain a positive outlook. A mentally and emotionally resilient person has the tools for coping with difficult situations. This makes the person focused, productive and flexible and it also makes them less afraid of new experiences and uncertain future. Mental health resilience is important in helping people to improve relationships, contribute to their community in a meaningful way, cope with stress, be physically healthy, realize their potential, and work productively.

April is Stress Awareness Month

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April is Stress Awareness Month

April is Stress Awareness Month. This past year has certainly taught us the importance of learning to cope with our stress and finding healthy ways to deal with different situations. Healthy coping strategies can go a long way in living a healthy and positive life.

The American Psychological Association found in 2017 the most common sources of stress reported among Americans were the “future of our nation” (63%), money (62%), work (61%), political climate (57%), and violence/crime (51%).

One technique that experts recommend to address stress is to have a specific 30-day challenge. This challenge encourages you to do one action for your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing every day. This challenge can help you find ways to cope with your own stresses and may also provide helpful strategies in changing your mindset and outlook on stress.

The 3 important self-care practices to consider are:

  • Exercise Move every day for 10 minutes or more to boost your serotonin levels, feel a sense of accomplishment, and improve your energy.
  • Practice Healthy Boundaries Learn to say no to the things that diminish the quality of your life. These might include media, food, people, and unhelpful activities.
  • Set a Routine Make time in your schedule for taking care of the things that are important to you including work, play, and rest. Establish a regular sleep schedule.
  • Make sure to incorporate at least one relaxing and rewarding thing once a week.

Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Celebrates Nutrition Month

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Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Celebrates Nutrition Month

Hippocrates said “Let thy food be thy medicine.” Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates Nutrition Month. Nutrition Month was created to focus on reminding people to make correct food choices in addition to developing good exercising and eating habits. Throughout life, a nutritious diet supports an overall stronger mental and physical development and aging process, reduces risks of chronic disease, helps to maintain a desirable body weight and leads to overall well-being and health.

NewsWise published an article which addressed nutritional needs in different stages of life:

  • Teens to 20s — Build bone density by eating and drinking calcium-rich foods and beverages such as fat-free or low-fat dairy milk or yogurt or calcium-fortified soy beverages. Non-dairy sources of calcium include fortified cereals, beans, some leafy greens and canned salmon with bones.
  • 30s to 40s — Eating a variety of nutritious foods, especially plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans, peas and lentils for vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber.
  • 40s to 50s — Fine tune your healthful eating habits and continue to incorporate regular physical activity as your body changes due to fluctuating hormones and slowing metabolism. Also, continue to focus on ways to limit foods and beverages with added sugars, salt and saturated fat.
  • 60s and beyond — Continue to include a variety of protein-rich foods to maintain bone strength and incorporate strength-building activities to maintain muscle. Good sources of protein include seafood, lean cuts of meat, eggs, beans, tofu and nuts. Animal-based protein foods also provide vitamin B12, which is a concern for some older adults.

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

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February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

1 in 3 teens have experienced teen dating violence nationwide. Teen dating violence can have long-term and severe short-term effects on teens, and these teens are more likely to use drugs, alcohol and tobacco; contemplate suicide; eating disorders and experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.

As we continue to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, we should be more aware of digital dating abuse. Digital dating abuse is defined as using technology to continually harass a romantic partner with the intent to control, coerce, intimidate, annoy or threaten them. Video chat, social media, and texting are different ways youth communicate that provide various opportunities for digital dating abuse.

It is encouraged to talk to youth early about dating violence and healthy relationships. Some tips on having a conversation with youth about health relationships are:

  • Encourage thoughtful, honest, and open dialogue – Talk openly and allow them to articulate what a healthy relationship is to them.
  • Be active in the youth’s life – Find activities and interests you can do with the teen.
  • Be supportive and nonjudgmental – Try to respect differences of opinions, come to mutually acceptable decisions, and be aware of seeming too judgmental or pushy so the teen does not become too defensive.

National Poverty in America Awareness Month

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National Poverty in America Awareness Month

January is National Poverty in America Awareness Month. The poverty rate in the United States increased from 9.3% in June to 11.7% in November, the biggest increase in one year since 1960. The federal poverty line is $26,200 for a family of four. Poverty can cause malnutrition and hunger; lack of proper medical care; social discrimination and exclusion; and limited access to education and other basic services.

Housing affects almost everything: it plays a critical role in providing stability to poor families. Housing poverty includes energy and fuel poverty, lack of access to water, and lack of sanitation. The housing market does not produce enough affordable housing, and the number of households paying more than 30% of household income for rent is at historic levels. Families with severe rent burdens are left with very little room for other necessities. Often, they face eviction, sometimes repeatedly, or in worst cases, end up homeless.

Poverty USA’s Poverty Quiz, will help you learn about the structures and systems that affect our communities. Some ways we can help to combat poverty in America is through contributing to charities with support and time. Different charities assist with food aid, access to education, and other areas. Charity Navigator evaluates charitable organizations in the US for efficient use of funds.