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Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

VCU Health CMH has a neurologist, Yasir Al-Khalili, MD, who is an assistant professor of neurology at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and treats patients with brain disorders in South Hill.

June is designated Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. June contains the Summer Solstice: the longest day of the year. To combat the darkness of this disease, the Alzheimer’s Association choose the month with the most daylight. It’s a great time to make sure our loved ones are exercising their brains.

Use it or lose it. While you can’t do much to prevent Alzheimer’s, it is caused by brain cells that die off. The more time spent thinking hard exercises the brain, sending fuel and oxygen to keep it operating efficiently. That’s why it is so important to get involved during retirement – work a part-time job or volunteer in the community to keep your brain occupied. Play games that require periods of deep thinking like Scrabble, Sudoku and crossword puzzles. While age and genetics can make some people more susceptible to forms of dementia, you may be able to improve your chances by eating well, exercising and avoiding tobacco products.

In early 1900s, a German doctor named Alois Alzheimer first connected memory loss with microscopic brain alterations. Across the globe, 50 million people suffer from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

A lot of people confuse Alzheimer’s disease with dementia. Alzheimer’s progressively takes over the brain and is the most common form and cause of dementia. Dementia is not a disease; it is a collection of symptoms to include memory loss, difficulty speaking and comprehension that disrupt normal life.

Alzheimer’s is difficult to diagnose. Physicians look at the medical background, conduct an exam in the office, run blood work, and ask questions about how a patient thinks, acts and behaves in certain situations. Primary care physicians may conclude a patient exhibits overall dementia signs but may not be able to diagnose the specific disease.

VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) has a neurologist who may be able to help improve symptoms, but there is no cure.

Yasir Al-Khalili, MD, said, “Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia; many conditions can mimic Alzheimer’s disease in the beginning. It is very important to seek neurological advice if you are concerned about a family member as it is imperative to catch early and slow the progression of disease.’’

For those who need an extended level of care beyond what families can provide, VCU Health CMH offers home health, long-term care and hospice to support the families of this community. Call (434) 447-0831 for CMH Home Health and Hospice and (434) 584-4054 for The Hundley Center, a long-term care and skilled nursing facility.

To make an appointment with a primary care physician at VCU Health CMH, call (434) 584-2273.