La Palma-Cerritos AAUW

Improve brain health with diet, exercise and less stress

The La Palma- Cerritos Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) usually meet on the third Thursdays of the month from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m., but Program Co-VP’s Karen Cox, Nancy Kawamura, and Mary Ann Quinn planned for a different program for the first meeting of 2020. The first meeting of 2020 began at 12:30 in the afternoon at Cerritos Park East instead of in the evening with lunch included! President Harriet Moses welcomed everyone and invited everyone to enjoy the free lunch of chips, sandwiches, fruits, desserts and water that the Program Co-VP’s prepared. Twenty -three members and one guest enjoyed the lunch before listening to the guest speaker and participating in the general meeting that followed.

At about 1:10, Harriet introduced Mary Ann Quinn, who then introduced, Judy Osuna, the Community Outreach & Education Manager from the Alzheimer’s Family Center in Huntington Beach.

Judy’s topic was advertised as “Well Aging” and “Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease.” Those are timely topics to discuss, because, as she noted in her Power Point Presentation, that today, 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, including 84,000 Orange County residents. She said that the Alzheimer’s Association estimated in 2014 that this number will double by 2030.

Judy spent over an hour discussing how we can improve our brain health, decrease our risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease, helping a family member with dementia, and supporting a caregiver.

Judy gave practical tips on how we can improve our brain health and decrease our risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease, which is one form of dementia. She said we should get active and do aerobic activities, resistance training, and flexibility and balance exercises for 20 minutes each day. She said that exercise increases oxygen in our blood and improves our brain health, and the best exercises are the ones that you enjoy doing.

Judy noted that everyone was doing very shallow breathing, so she had everyone practice a deep-breathing exercise to increase oxygen in our blood. She also asked everyone to practice standing from a chair, without holding on to anything, for 10 to 20 times, to increase strength and balance. If we could do it 20 times, we probably were strong enough to walk without falling.

As part of Health Management, Judy reminded us how obesity and malnutrition, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and depression can negatively affect our health. She said that nutrition matters and eating a diet of vegetables and fruits and less sugar and meat might help improve cognitive function with a slower rate of cognitive decline.

Other practical tips that she gave included the following: 1) Since memory is affected by stress, avoid stress by relaxation techniques such as meditation, doing pleasurable activities, and using memory aids. 2) Avoid depression. People with depression are likely to develop dementia. Be happy and loving and have a longer life. 3) Keep being social. By continuing to talk to family and friends you will keep up your language skills. Stay in touch with people by telephone and contribute to conversations. Learn something new every day. As an example, Judy challenged the audience to figure out word messages as a fun exercise for the brain. It was challenging!

For more information, Judy provided informational pamphlets and brochures about the Alzheimer’s Family Center in Huntington Beach and what it has to offer. There is a neurologist available at the center to diagnose and check on medications. The center also has Adult Care, Memory Checkups, Mind Booster Series and Seminars. Legal Workshops, and Healthy Brain Fairs. Contact Judy Osuna at [email protected] for details about counseling for caregivers, insurance coverage and affordability as a Medicare provider, or call toll free, (866) 689-1997.

Program Co-VP Mary Ann Quinn thanked Judy Osuna for her interesting presentation with helpful information and exercises to improve brain health and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. She presented Judy with a certificate of appreciation from the branch and a succulent planter as a gift.

There was a brief business meeting that followed Judy Osuna’s speech. President Harriet Moses reminded members to plan on coming to support La Palma-Cerritos AAUW branch members who will be hosting the Cerritos Candidates Forum on Monday, February 3, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. at the Cerritos City Council Chambers at Cerritos City Hall.

Harriet also reminded members and guests to come to the branch’s AAUW Fund Luncheon Fundraiser at Mimi’s Bistro & Bakery in Cerritos on Saturday, February 8, 2020, starting at 11:00 a.m. with AAUW Fund Career Development Grant Winner Elsie Carbajal as guest speaker. Reservations for the lunch at Mimi’s are required by February 6, and donation for the lunch is $45, with $15 being tax deductible.

For more information about the lunch at Mimi’s contact AAUW Fund VP Faith Herschler at 714-821-4067.

Judy Osuna of the Alzheimer’s Family Center speaks to members of the American Association of University Women of Cerritos-La Palma. Courtesy photo.