Yuma Sun

Christ Lutheran Church hosts program about Alzheimer’s, dementia


Dementia and disease.

What are they? Is there anything we can do to prevent them or delay their onset? And how can we care for loved ones who are diagnosed with them?

Those questions and others will be answered March 25 when Christ Lutheran Church in Yuma hosts two presentati­ons that will be open to the public.

Dr. Ricky Ochoa of Yuma will speak on the topic of “Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Caregiving,” while Carol Brown, program developmen­t and advocacy manager for the Western Arizona Council of Government’s Area Agency on Aging, will address “Caregivers for Dementia and Alzheimer’s.”

The presentati­ons, slated to begin at 10 a.m. at the church located at 2555 Engler Ave., are part of a series of programs on a variety of issues hosted by the church.

The programs are open to everyone, whether they are members of the church or not. Admission is free.

“We offer these seminars because we care about the community and we’re just trying to come up with ways to help people,” said Christ Lutheran Pastor Vince Harman. “We just want to offer some help and guidance, and whatever we can do to help, we will.”

In the end, dementia is not preventabl­e, says Ochoa.

“I think we are going to suffer some cognitive issues as we get older,” he said, “but I think dementia can be slowed.”

Proper diet, keeping the mind active, getting adequate exercise and a wise choice of surroundin­gs can all help in delaying the progressio­n of dementia, he says.

Ochoa will discuss those topics at length. But he also plans to talk about what

Alzheimer’s people can do to prepare loved ones for the onset of dementia, how to take care of them as the disease progresses and how to have end-of-life discussion­s.

Ochoa is well-versed on the subject not only because he is a doctor but because he helped his mother as she battled dementia in her later years.

“I’m going to talk about what not to do, because I wasn’t prepared for it, even though I am a physician,” said Ochoa, whose mother passed away last April.

“I defintely learned a lot about it as her son and as a physician.”

As part of her role with the Area Agency on Aging, Brown meets with lawmakers and works with officials at all levels of government to increase awareness of the problem of Alzheimer’s.

And the faster the state grows, Brown says, the more pervasive its presence may become. As a mecca for retirees and winter visitors, Arizona has the nation’s fastest-growing rate of diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

And the rate could grow even more in the years to come, given that by 2030 the number of Arizona residents 60 and older are projected to exceed those under 17.

Brown said she will talk about those statistics and what services and resources are available to help Alzheimer’s patients.

Among those resources are robotic therapy animals that serve as companiona­ble pets for patients whose conditions no longer allow them to have and care for the real thing. Brown says she will bring with her some examples of the battery-powered animals and will explain how and where they can be obtained.

Refreshmen­ts will be served at the March 25 program.

For more informatio­n about the program, calll Apryl Brand at 928-341-0994.

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