Tuesday, 08 June 2021
Written by Staff Report
With more COVID-19 vaccinations across the country, many Americans are looking forward to resuming their lives and returning to normal. This June, during Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, the Alzheimer’s Association — Eastern North Carolina Chapter is encouraging residents to make brain health an important part of their return to normal.
“The past year has been extremely challenging for most Americans,” said Lisa Roberts, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association — Eastern North Carolina Chapter. “Chronic stress, like that experienced during the pandemic, can impact memory, mood and anxiety. As North Carolina residents begin to return to normal, we encourage them to make brain health a priority.”
The Alzheimer’s Association offers five suggestions to promote brain health and to help North Carolina residents restore their mental well-being.
Recommit to Brain-Healthy Basics
Evidence suggests that healthy behaviors took a backseat for many Americans during the pandemic. Gym memberships were put on hiatus, social engagement became more challenging and many Americans swapped out healthful eating for their favorite comfort foods, take-out meals and frequent snacking while working remotely. One study published recently found participants gained nearly 1.5 pounds per month over the past year, on average.
The Alzheimer’s Association — through its U.S. POINTER Study — is examining the role lifestyle interventions,including diet, may play in protecting cognitive function. Right now, many experts agree that people can improve their brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline by adopting healthy lifestyle habits, preferably in combination, including: exercising regularly, maintaining a heart-healthy diet, getting proper sleep, staying socially and mentally active.
Return to Normal at Your Own Pace
Many Americans are eager for a return to normal life following the pandemic, but others are anxious. In fact, one recent survey found that nearly half of adults (49%) report feeling uncomfortable about returning to in-person interactions when the pandemic ends. For those feeling anxious, the Alzheimer’s Association suggests taking small steps. It may also be important to set boundaries and communicate your preferences to others in your social circles.
There is evidence to suggest that helping others during the pandemic may not only make you feel better, but it may be good for you as well. Research shows that helping others in a crisis can be an effective way to alleviate stress and anxiety. One study published during the pandemic found that adults over age 50 who volunteer for about two hours per week have a substantially reduced risk of dying, higher levels of physical activity and an improved sense of well-being. To help others and yourself during June and throughout the year, volunteer in your community,run errands or deliver meals to a home-bound senior or donate to a favorite cause, such as supporting participants in the Alzheimer’s Association’s The Longest Day event on June 20.
Unplug and Disconnect
Technology has dominated our daily lives during the pandemic like never before. While technology has kept us connected through COVID-19, it has also created fatigue for many Americans. Experts warn that excessive stimulation coming from our phones, computers, social media sources and news reports can add to our already heightened anxiety levels. To avoid technology overload, experts advise setting limits on your screen time, avoid carrying your phone everywhere, and disconnecting from digital devices at bedtime.
Control Your Stress Before it Controls You
In small doses, stress teaches the brain how to respond in healthy ways to the unexpected, inconvenient or unpleasant realities of daily life. Prolonged or repeated stress, however, can wear down and damage the brain, leading to serious health problems including depression, anxiety disorders, memory loss and increased risk for dementia. Reports indicate that Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers are especially vulnerable to physical and emotional stress. The Alzheimer’s Association offers tips to help manage caregiver stress. Meditation, exercise, listening to music or returning to a favorite activity you have missed during the pandemic are just some ways to manage stress. Do what works best for you.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been an overwhelming time for all of us,” Roberts said. “It’s important for people to know there are steps we can take to lessen the stress and anxiety we might be feeling. It can be easy to take brain health for granted, but now more than ever, it’s a good idea to make it a priority.”
Currently, the Alzheimer’s Association and representatives from more than 40 countries are working together to study the short- and long-term consequences of COVID-19 on the brain and nervous system in people at different ages, and from different genetic backgrounds.
During Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month, the Alzheimer’s Association in North Carolina is hosting virtual events for participants to learn about research in the areas of diet and nutrition, cognitive activity and social engagement.
“Healthy Brain, Healthy Body, Healthy You Symposium” — will take place on June 7-11. Discover strategies and activities to incorporate into your plan for healthy aging in our seven-part series. Sponsored by Sharon Towers, this interactive virtual experience includes sessions such as a cooking demonstration and gentle yoga. Join all sessions or just those of interest.
Part 1: Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body Overview took place June 7
Part 2: Mindfulness Matters was scheduled for June 8
Part 3: Med Instead of Meds: Eating the Mediterranean Way for Better Health is scheduled for June 9
Part 4: Gentle Yoga (seated) is scheduled for June 9
Part 5: Engaging with Art is scheduled for June 10
Part 6: Mediterranean Cooking Demonstration is scheduled for June 10
Part 7: Gentle Yoga (Mat) is scheduled for June 11
“Taking PRIDE in Healthy Living” — will take place virtually on June 17 from 6-7:30 p.m. Science provides insights into how to make lifestyle choices that may help you keep your brain and body healthy as you age. Join us to learn about research in the areas of diet and nutrition, exercise, cognitive activity and social engagement. Hear from panelists such as Dr. Rhett Brown, a top healthcare provider for LGBTQ+ individuals and others who provide services and social activities to the LGBTQ+ community across North Carolina.
“The Longest Day®” — leading up to and culminating on June 20, the summer solstice and the day with the most light – local residents will join advocates across North Carolina and the world to participate in The Longest Day to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s through an activity of their choice. Together, they will use their creativity and passion to raise critical funds and awareness to advance Alzheimer’s Association® care, support and research programs. Participants can support the event at home, online or in-person – biking, hiking, playing bridge, knitting and more – to shine a light on the more than 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, and the more than 11 million family members and friends providing care and support.
Additional information on virtual educational programs and other care and support resources or how to get involved with the Association, can be found by visiting the Alzheimer’s Association, Eastern North Carolina Chapter at www.alz.org/nc or by calling our 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900.
Tuesday, 08 June 2021
Written by Jeff Thompson
June is National Gun Violence Awareness Month, and while crime has gone down overall during the pandemic, homicides and other gun crimes have surged nationally, according to a recent report.
The city of Fayetteville’s 2021 murder rate will likely exceed the local record of 31 violent deaths set in 2016. There have been 21 homicides in Fayetteville so far this year, according to police spokesman Sgt. Jeremy Glass. That’s a 38% increase over the first half of last year. There were 13 homicides during the first six months of 2020 and 11 during the corresponding period in 2019. “There are too many victims of gun violence that could have been prevented,” Gov. Roy Cooper has said.
CBS News recently researched the 2019 murder rates of 65 U.S. cities with more than 100,000 residents. Fayetteville was ranked 55th. Charlotte was tied with Nashville, Tennessee, for 59th place. Winston-Salem was rated 56th, Durham 52nd, Greensboro 44th and High Point 34th. The lower the number, the higher the murder rate. CBS News’ calculations used the FBI's 2019 Crime in the United States data, as well as information culled directly from city police officials and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins says the record sale of guns in 2020 was a major factor for the increase in homicides so far this year. “Violent crime is increasing around the nation and we’re part of it,” she said.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation noted that 2020 was record-breaking in nearly every measurable metric. More than 8.4 million people purchased their first guns last year. The increase in homicide rates across the country is both historic and far-reaching, as were the social movements that touched every part of society in 2020.
"Those that are predisposed to commit violent crime are not likely to remain in their homes away from other people because there is a stay-at-home order," said Kansas City Police Sergeant Jacob Becchina. “I think the pandemic — COVID — has had a significant emotional impact on people across the country,” Detroit police chief James Craig said.
Chief Hawkins agrees with Craig. She told Up & Coming Weekly that individuals are not processing how they manage disputes. What used to be a fist fight has become a gun fight.
Hawkins said that it’s difficult for law enforcement agencies to prevent murders, most of which are inflicted as the result of domestic disputes, gang activity, violent conflicts and predatory violence.
“We absolutely are proactively on the forefront to eliminate crime,” Hawkins said. “The entire department works very hard to incorporate technology into solving crime.”
She said that most of the 100 downtown video cameras are operating. They are monitored during special events such as the Dogwood Festival and baseball games at Segra Stadium.
The National Council for Home Safety and Security has ranked North Carolina’s 50 safest cities. Fayetteville is not among them. Hope Mills is ranked 42nd. Pinehurst is North Carolina’s safest municipality. True to its image as an upper-crust resort community, Pinehurst recorded a low 0.93 per 1,000 violent crime rate along with the lowest property crime rate in the state.