HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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Treatment of dementia depends on its cause. In the case of most progressive dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease, there is no cure and no treatment that slows or stops its progression. But there are drug treatments that may temporarily improve symptoms. The same medications used to treat Alzheimer’s are among the drugs sometimes prescribed to help with symptoms of other types of dementias. Non-drug therapies can also alleviate some symptoms of dementia.


The path to effective new treatments for dementia is through increased research and funding and increased participation in clinical studies. Right now, volunteers are urgently needed to participate in clinical studies and trials about Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

UNDERSTANDING THE DEMENTIA SYNDROME

may include problems with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse or wallet, remembering to pay bills, planning and preparing meals or remembering appointments.


The emphasis at this year’s symposium was understanding the dementia syndrome.  Dementia is not a single disease; it’s an overall term, like heart disease, that covers a wide range of specific medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease. Disorders grouped under the general term dementia are caused by abnormal brain changes. These changes trigger a decline in thinking skills (also known as cognitive abilities) that is severe enough to impair daily life and affect the patient’s behavior, feelings and relationships.


Alzheimer’s disease accounts for about 60 percent to 80 percent of cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs because of microscopic bleeding and blood vessel blockage in the brain, is the second most common cause of dementia. Those who experience the brain changes of multiple types of dementia simultaneously have mixed dementia. There are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia. Some are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.  

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP



Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a professor emeritus and senior research scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut; retired service chief from the VA Medical Center; and tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky.

The 10th Annual Sanders-Brown Markesbery Symposium on Aging and Dementia went virtual in 2020.  This community symposium is named in honor and memory of the late Dr. William R. Markesbery, founding director of the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.


Dr. Markesbery’s legacy of groundbreaking research has formed the bedrock for our quest to understand and treat Alzheimer’s disease and to improve the quality of life of older adults. In the sessions for both the scientific and community audience, attendees had the opportunity to hear clinicians and researchers from the University of Kentucky and other institutions share current findings, trends and the latest updates on dementia and aging disorders, particularly as related to Alzheimer’s disease.


The Sanders-Brown Center on Aging made the needed adjustments to ensure the 10th annual symposium happened this year despite the ongoing pandemic. Both the community session and scientific session were held virtually via Zoom. This move provided a unique opportunity for more people to attend who otherwise might have not been able to make it to the event in person.


Dementia is a group of symptoms that affects memory and thinking and interferes with daily life. Signs of dementia can vary greatly, but