Parker Memory Health Fair lets seniors test memory, learn activities

Parker Memory Health Fair lets seniors test memory, learn activities

HIGHLAND PARK— Rosemary Krawczyk sometimes goes into the kitchen, then forgets what she was looking for. Was it a cup? A fork?

“That happens once in a while. Or you forget a name. My kids worry about me. So I came here to take the memory test,” she said at a Memory Health Fair conducted on Nov. 6 at Parker Adult Day Center.

Krawczyk, who is 71 and from Sayreville, joined 170 other seniors who either took the memory test, played “brain games,” exercised, watched a cooking demonstration, listened to a health lecture or participated in some other activity.

“They told me I got all the answers on the test correct,” Krawczyk recalled while watching Rocco Mita, Parker executive chef, brine a turkey and make stuffing and pumpkin cheesecake in the cooking demonstration.

Louise Williams of Highland Park added, “I learned that proper diet and remembering recipes are two good ways to keep your mind healthy and prevent memory loss. Now … that cheesecake sounds good.”

The Parker Memory Health Fair focused on aging and memory, and provided the type of memory screening not often done during a routine doctor’s visit. Though not a definitive test, the Memory Impairment Screening lets many seniors at the fair know if they might be experiencing the memory lapses associated with normal aging and not a more serious condition.

“Sometimes I forget things,” said Ronita Barber, 63, of Piscataway. “I wonder, ‘Am I losing it or do I just have so much on my mind it is hard to keep it all sorted?’ I think we all have to be proactive and find out how we can protect our memory as we get older.”

The screenings, sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Foundation each year during November, can identify a person who should consult with a health-care provider, especially because medicines and interventions can be helpful for people experiencing the onset of dementia.

“A key message of the day was that seniors with memory issues should get screenings yearly to track memory loss,” said Parker President and Chief Executive Officer Roberto Muñiz, who added that Parker plans similar healthy aging events for April and November of next year.

Gilda Moore, daughter of Erma Butler, a participant at the Parker Adult Day Center, attended the fair with a friend. Moore said her mother “attends five days a week and she is very pleased with the care she is receiving and is looking forward to each day at Parker.”

The memory fair also featured experts in the field of aging and memory, as well as lectures for caregivers.

Patti Kerr, author of “I Love You … Who Are You?” talked about her experience caring for her mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease.

“My mother was my best friend,” Kerr recalled. “I thought because of our bond she would never forget who I was. So I was not prepared when my mother no longer knew me. I knew then I needed to get help. And now I try to provide a road map for others.”

Participants at the fair learned about the latest research into memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Dr. Joel S. Ross, founder of the Memory Enhancement Center of America, told the audience that new imaging technology and other tests used in the research setting of his centers can be used to predict which seniors with mild cognitive impairment are likely to progress to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. He also is testing new interventions that might reduce or postpone progression of more severe memory loss.

His research is funded by pharmaceutical companies testing new medicines to combat these memory-robbing diseases of the brain. Ross also is seeking approval for a study to follow the adult children of dementia patients who exhibit no symptoms but who might be at risk.

At the fair as well were Rutgers University students who organized “brain games,” such as Pictionary, word searches and scrambles, and other exercises to promote mental agility. The students’ professor, Dr. Susan Kaplowitz, said the activities were valuable for students and seniors.

Many of those who attended the event, such as Violanda Capriglione of Edison, said the education and activities were informative.

“Sometimes you wonder, where did you put the keys, or the umbrella? When you get older, you also get slower, and people assume you are getting dementia,” she said. “But we all forget things.”

Parker at The Pavilion Adult Day Center is an affiliate of The Francis E. Parker Memorial Home, a not-for-profit long-term care provider servicing seniors since 1907 in Central Jersey. For more information, visit www.FrancisEParker.com

Read more: http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20111113/NJNEWS/311130015/Parker-Memory-Health-Fair-lets-seniors-test-memory-learn-activities?odyssey=navhead