Alzheimer's Awareness Month

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alzheimersST. JOHNSURY- November is usually affiliated with Thanksgiving, but it is also known as National Alzheimer's Awareness Month. According to The Alzheimer's Association, there has been an increase in Vermonters that have the disease.

Back in 1983, President Ronald Regan deemed November as National Alzheimer's Awareness Month; at that time less than 2 million Americans had been affected by this disease. However, the Alzheimer's Association states that today, more than 5 million Americans have developed this disease.

The St. Johnsbury Health and Rehibiltation Center houses and cares for patients with Alzheimers and Dementia, as affected patients typically need someone to care for them. Alzheimers progressively deteroriates the brain destorying memories and  other important mental functions. This disease usually affects those of middle and elderly age and as of right now there is no cure. "Your chances of contracting the disease, I think they are one in two over eighty five," says Joanne Schulyer, an L.N.R at the center.

Despite the severity of the disease, patients like 80 year old Nollie Page can be found laughing and excersising with her friends. "I don't pay attention to Alzheimers because I enjoy life," Page says during her excersise group.

The Alzheimer's Society believes that excersise can help reduce the symptoms of Alzheimers. Excersise can help to improve patient's symptoms such as sleep quality, cognition, reducing the risk of falling, as well as helping to prevent the risk of osteoporosis (a disease that makes bones weak and fragile). However, the most important form of excersise for those affected may be mental excersise.  Experts say that activities that empower the mind such as puzzles can help these patients. Which is why the center in St. Johnsbury immerses the patients in music. "By getting all this music it can sometimes help them connect in a way that maybe other things haven't," claims Schuyler.

The Center is always looking for volunteers to come and help patients like Page who says, "I just enjoy being here with everybody." If anyone is interested in volunteering at the shelter they can call 802-748-8757.