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Executive Director’s Letter

Our mission is to enhance the quality of life for older persons.

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LETTER FROM EXECUTIVE DIRECTORBarry Low res_0011

I had the quintessential grandma. She had those coveted high cheek bones, quick smile and several times in our conversation she would say, “You know Barry, it’s a funny thing…” then continue with her wisdom.  As a child in a two flat in Chicago, she lived on the first floor and we on the second.  So the first three years of my life, grandma was always around.  Even after my parents moved to the suburbs, we drove into the city often and when we would leave, Grams, would stand on the sidewalk and wave until I could no longer see her.  Even our departure came with strict instructions from her, not to say goodbye, just say so long.

But our goodbyes did come. When I went off to college in another state, then got a job my visits were confined to the holidays.  But the “goodbye” I didn’t expect is the one I most remember.

My mother called once to let me know that Gramms was in need of round the clock care and so she was placed in a nursing home. What I didn’t know was that her mind had left one night with no real warning.  One day she was lucid and holding conversations with my mother and the next day her friendly demeanor was as general as a guest at a cocktail party.

When I came to visit her at the nursing home, she greeted me with her customary smile and friendly voice but it didn’t quite seem the same. So when I asked her, “Do you remember me?”  She replied, “Of course I do, your Stephen.”  She didn’t have good days, bad days, she was gone.

I have been doing a lot of studying lately about Alzheimer’s disease and the research is promising. There is strong evidence that it is related to diet, in fact some doctors now refer to it as Type 3 diabetes.  The possibility that by eating differently can actually reduce the risk of dementia in our own lives is exciting.

Mental exercise also seems to play a factor in keeping the mind clear, according to a study of “Superagers” who had brain function comparable to 20 year olds. They were always mentally challenging themselves.  While it wasn’t crossword puzzles and Sudoku, these seniors organized closets, garages, kept checklists and wrote in journals.  They created things, knitted, exercised, took up new hobbies and meditated.  They even switched hands from time to time in minor tasks to keep the brain guessing.

I still forget where I put my keys from time to time or the name of the person I just met. I even forget if I took my prescription heart pills in the morning.  But I am encouraged that an “old dog” can learn new tricks.  Join me in trying new things that make my lazy brain work a little harder.

Best to you all!

Barry

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