DAVID COOK: For a healthy life

DAVID COOK: For a healthy life

The Arkansas Chronic Disease Coalition is preparing to host its annual forum Wednesday and Thursday at the Benton Events Center. The Chronic Disease Coordinating Council is a partnership of organizations consisting of program managers of the Arkansas Department of Health chronic disease programs, chairs of the various chronic disease coalitions, and a number of other organizational representatives. Its mission is to increase the quality and years of healthy life for all Arkansans by reducing the burden of chronic disease through leadership and collaborative action impacting policies, systems and environmental changes.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Healthy Living For Your Brain and Body” and is being co-hosted by the Arkansas Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. The two-day forum will feature a variety of health-care professionals sharing information on the importance of making lifestyle interventions that will encourage healthy aging and brain health.

Alzheimer’s and other dementia are creating a public-health crisis across the state. In Arkansas alone, more than 58,000 Arkansans over the age of 65 are currently living with Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, that number is expected to climb to over 67,000 by 2025, an increase of 15.5 percent.

This forum is a great opportunity for Arkansas residents to learn more about how to age in a healthy way, especially when it comes to their cognition. New studies show that obesity, high blood pressure, smoking and drinking can all play a part in cognitive decline.

The conference will also emphasize the need for a more comprehensive approach to encourage healthy aging in an effort to change the trajectory of the disease. The forum will feature Dr. Chris Webber from the Alzheimer’s Association, who will discuss some of the latest developments in Alzheimer’s research and share information about the lifestyle interventions that can be taken to encourage healthy aging and minimize the risks of developing cognitive decline. Hillary Hunt with KARK, Channel 4, will moderate a physician’s panel discussion.

The two-day conference is open to the public, health-care professionals, and all of those who might be impacted by Alzheimer’s and other dementia. Continuing education credits are being offered in partnership with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Chronic Disease Coordinating Council. For more information or to register go to Alz.org/arkansas.

David Cook is director of Public Policy and Government Affairs at the Alzheimer’s Association Arkansas Chapter.

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