Working to Help Local Veterans and Military Members at Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s
The Alzheimer’s Military Task Force plans and executes sustainable initiatives focused for military personnel and veterans in our region. An example of some of the initiatives include dementia awareness and education within the partner organizations and referrals for diagnosis, as well as support services and information for those diagnosed with dementia and their families.
Organizations Involved in Alzheimer’s Military Task Force:
The Alzheimer’s Association: Miami Valley Chapter
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Dayton VA Medical Center
Grant provided by the Wright-Patt Credit Union Sunshine Fund
Individuals on the Alzheimer’s Military Task Force represent organizations including:
Air Force Research Laboratory
Disabled American Veterans
Veterans of Foreign Wars
The Dayton Regional Military Collaborative
Local Resources: County Veteran Services Offices, Veterans Healthcare, Veterans Benefits
Dementia Risk Factors in Veterans and Military Personnel
Veterans and military members face an elevated risk for developing dementia than the civilian population. Emerging research also shows that post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and even more minor neurotrauma associated with military service all significantly increase the risk of developing dementia.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a chronic and severe anxiety disorder that impacts parts of the brain related to processing memory and emotions. PTSD can occur as the result of exposure to violence, injury, or threat of death or violence, and is one of the most findings in veterans returning from combat. Individuals diagnosed with PTSD are almost twice as likely to develop dementia, when compared to those without the PTSD diagnosis.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) results from an impact to the head that disrupts normal brain function. TBI may affect a person’s cognitive abilities, including learning and thinking skills. Veterans of recent wars have survived serious head injuries in greater numbers than ever before, putting the latest generation of veterans at an increased risk of contracting Alzheimer’s. Over the past 30 years, research has linked moderate and severe traumatic brain injury to a greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia years after the original head injury.
What are the benefits of early detection?
- Receive the maximum benefit from available treatment that may provide some relief of symptoms and help you maintain a level of independence longer.
- Participate in clinical drug trials that can help advance research.
- Have more time to plan for the future and make decisions with dignity.
- Access care and support services for you and your loved ones to make it easier to live the best life possible with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Prevention strategies for veterans and military:
Prevention is key when it comes to mitigating the risks of dementia in veterans and military members. There are behavior and lifestyle changes that people can make to help maintain cognitive health and possibly slow the progression of dementia. According to Maj. (Dr.) Earl Banning, Director of Neuropsychology at the Wright-Patterson Medical Center, factors such as healthy eating, exercise, mental activity, heart health, and proper care after TBI and PTSD treatment can promote healthy cognitive function and help people maintain a cognitive reserve.
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