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West Bloomfield resident fights for Alzheimer’s Association

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 18, 2020

 West Bloomfield resident Kush Pandya has been assisting the Alzheimer’s Association in recent months. Pandya has been working in the role of an intern for a master’s degree in public health that he is pursuing at Michigan State University.

West Bloomfield resident Kush Pandya has been assisting the Alzheimer’s Association in recent months. Pandya has been working in the role of an intern for a master’s degree in public health that he is pursuing at Michigan State University.

Photo provided by Kush Pandya

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WEST BLOOMFIELD —  The fight against Alzheimer’s disease is one that goes back many years, and although there is still no cure, many people are still actively involved in trying to make a difference.

One such person is West Bloomfield resident Kush Pandya, who has been working with the Alzheimer’s Association in the role of an intern in recent months.

Pandya is pursuing a master’s in public health at Michigan State University.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association website, Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that accounts for 60%-80% of dementia cases, with dementia being a general term for symptoms like a decline in memory, reasoning or other thinking skills.

“I saw things in my own family life and my own relations where older family members were going through these things,” Pandya said. “There wasn’t much information involved, and people didn’t really understand. … I thought it was important to educate more individuals who might be going through similar things.”

Shenise Foote-Vann is an event manager for the association. She discussed some potential signs of Alzheimer’s.

“Memory loss is not just a part of aging,” Foote-Vann said. “Someone that does something fairly habitually and they’re starting to forget, like a drive home, something they may have done for 30 years, and then as they’re driving they completely forget which way to go, that’s a big indicator. When your loved one is doing things that’s not normal and you start to have questions, it’s the perfect time to have (a) conversation with your health care provider.”

Despite not being able to make the disease go away on their own, there are things those who want to make a difference can do to make life easier for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

“I think the biggest thing I’ve been able to understand from this is that there is still no cure for the disease, of course, but there are things that can be done to ease an individual who has it or who has symptoms for it, and also to act in a preventative measure for somebody who might be developing it,” Pandya said. “So, for example, increasing their cognitive brain exercises, increasing their physical activity, or doing small things like that to improve and benefit (an) individual who’s developing it or already has it.”

People with Alzheimer’s aren’t the only ones who go through struggles. The challenges caregivers face has not escaped Pandya’s attention.

“It takes a lot out of you sometimes, working with somebody who has dementia or Alzheimer’s,” Pandya said. “Caregivers also need that support as well. That’s something that the Alzheimer’s Association has been super great about, giving back to caregivers.”

Foote-Vann said she likes to say, ‘Alzheimer’s doesn’t stop and neither do we,’ and despite all that has been going on in the world, the fight against Alzheimer’s continues.

“In light of everything with COVID-19, we have a very vulnerable population, and they’re probably even more impacted with everything that’s going on,” Foote-Vann said. “So, I would say the biggest message is that now more than ever we continue to do what we’ve been doing, and that’s supporting those living with Alzheimer’s and their family. We are continuing to raise funds for support, research and care of that population as well.”

Foote-Vann shared some ways people can help.

“Right now, especially in these times, we’re in need of some funds,” she said. “There’s a variety of ways people can participate. … We have volunteer opportunities throughout the association.”

Those interested in helping can call (800) 272-3900 or visit alz.org.


‘10 Ways to Love Your Brain”
1. Break a sweat: Regular cardiovascular exercise elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body.

2. Hit the books: Formal education in any stage of life helps reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Take a class at a college, community center or online.

3. Butt out: Smoking increases the risk of cognitive decline. Quitting can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.

4. Follow your heart: Cardiovascular disease risk factors — obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes — negatively impact cognitive health, so heart health helps brain health.

5. Heads up: Brain injury can raise risks of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seatbelt, use a helmet for contact sports and riding a bike, and take steps to prevent falls.

6. Fuel up right: A healthy and balanced diet lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruits helps reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

7. Catch some ZZZs: Not getting enough sleep due to insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problems with memory and thinking.

8. Take care of your mental health: A history of depression may be linked with increased risk of cognitive decline. Seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression or anxiety, and try to manage stress.

9. Stump yourself: Challenge and activate your mind through creative and artistic projects, and games.

10. Buddy up: Social activities, volunteering and connecting with community groups can help brain health.

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