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Column: Panel for Seniors Addresses Improving One’s Memory

Amber Nightengale from AARP discusses memory coping resources with workshop attendee.

Amber Nightengale from AARP discusses memory coping resources with workshop attendee. Photo Contributed

On March 13, Senior Services of Alexandria and host, Westminster Presbyterian Church, welcomed more than 100 Alexandria seniors to SSA’s March Speaker Series event: “Maintaining Memory and Coping with its Loss.” The crowd was in good spirits and lighthearted about a topic that every aging adult will face, and gathered lots of valuable information presented by an impressive group of experts in the field.

SSA President-Elect David Baker began off the session by introducing Amber Nightingale, AARP’s Virginia associate state director for community outreach, and Amy Fortney Parks, executive director of Wise Mind Solutions, who discussed techniques on how to maintain memory. AARP emphasizes five key elements to brain fitness: Nutrition, socialization, spirituality, physical activity and mental stimulation. Their website (www.aarp.com) includes interactive games that can help keep your memory sharp and valuable resources on how to detect early memory loss.

Barbara Anderson Esq., of Life & Estate Planning Law Center, covered legal issues that everyone should consider when caring for someone with dementia, including how critical it is to have powers of attorney, medical directives and other legal documents in place. Jodi Lyons, representing the Alzheimer’s Association, and Janice Cooper Levy of Care Options emphasized how important it is for caregivers to reach out for help through support groups as well as how physical activity can enhance the lives of adults suffering from the effects of dementia and memory loss.

Darrell Wesley, director of Alexandria’s Adult Day Services Center, gave a heart-felt talk about how isolated seniors benefit from getting out of their homes and socializing with other community members. Pamela Phillips from Arden Courts in Annandale spoke about the decision to move a loved one into an assisted-living facility for the memory impaired and how this type of environment can actually improve the quality of life for many residents.

The session ended with a discussion about brain plasticity by Dr. Anne Marie Dietrich from Adult and Adolescent Psychiatry. Dietrich talked about the importance of keeping the brain stimulated through exercise, social interactions, Omega-3’s, antidepressant medications and proper sleep hygiene.

SSA’s Speaker Series continues next month with the focus on retirement — how to plan ahead and how to make the most of your retirement. It is scheduled for Wednesday, April 10 from 9:30 a.m. – noon at the Charles Beatley, Jr. Central Library. To register for this free event go to www.seniorservicesalex.org or call 703-836-4414, ext 10.