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A healthy brain goes hand-in-hand with a healthy life

By Julia Wolf

Keeping your brain healthy isn’t so different from keeping your body healthy. Sharlene Bellefeuille, community outreach coordinator with the Alzheimer’s Association, aims to show people what they can do to help maintain, or even improve, their health.

To help with that, a class is co-hosted by the Cornell-Lake Holcombe 2st Century Community Learning Center (CLC).

Bellefeuille says the Alzheimer’s Association evidencebased programming is always free.

“It (programming) actually runs the gamut of life,” said Bellefeuille, adding the focus of different programs range from healthy aging, to those in the disease process.

Bellefeuille will lead a program titled Healthy Living For Your Brain and Body, Wednesday, Nov. 13, from 6-7 p.m., at Lake Holcombe School. During the class, attendees will look at life in four quadrants.

“We’ve always talked about healthy eating,” said Bellefeuille.

However, research shows more than just nutrition affects brain health, though that is an important aspect as well. Cognitive activity, physical health and exercise, and social engagement, will also be discussed during the program.

“All four of those things are very important to a well-balanced life,” said Bellefeuille.

Bellefeuille says there will be handouts during the class, along with a power point where attendees will hear from caregivers and those in the disease process. She says the program often features casual, almost chatty, conversation, despite the heavy topic, which helps people leave feeling successful about how they can move forward.

The handouts will also feature a workbook for attendees to take home to continue to work on short-term goals.

“We really need to talk about short-term goals, what you and I could change today at lunch time, or throughout today, to make a difference for our brains,” said Bellefeuille.

Bellefeuille added the class is suitable for anyone interested.

“We can start now,” said Bellefeuille, adding it is not too late to start working on brain health.

Bellefeuille will also hold a class called 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s, Thursday, Nov. 21, from 6-7 p.m., at the Cornell Elementary School. The program is an updated version of a previous class, so even those who have attended, will hear new information. The class is also appropriate for anyone interested.

“In this program, we, No. 1, talk about age-related changes,” said Bellefeuille. “And that’s a challenge.”

Bellefeuille says many people looking at the list of warning signs, taken on their own, would see eight or nine of them in themselves.

“It’s because a lot of normal aging can mimic what we see as non-normal aging,” said Bellefeuille, adding the difference will be discussed in the class.

Bellefeuille says they will also discuss how to approach a loved one when you see the signs in them and the importance of early detection.

“Then, we are going to talk about the diagnostic process itself,” said Bellefeuille, including what the assessments and tests are like. “The more they (people) know what it is, the less fearful they are going to be.”

Registration is appreciated, but not required to attend. Those interested in either class can register by sending in the CLC fall brochure, or by calling Kristine at 715-861-8011.