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As holidays approach, medical experts say reconnecting with kupuna is critical

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 5:04 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2021 at 5:05 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As we get ready to re-connect with the kupuna in our lives this holiday week, experts say this is an opportunity to check on their physical, mental and emotional wellness.

Kaiser Geriatrician Dr. Serena Lo has many patients struggling with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease and says for some, pandemic shutdowns and isolation had a heartbreaking impact.

“I had a patient who used to golf twice a week, movies twice a week, and then went to daycare twice a week,” Dr. Lo said. “She literally just forgot how to golf after that one month and she never regained it since. That’s just one example, but we do see a lot of our patients are having trouble with managing their day-to-day and they’re kind of taken out of their routine.”

Lo says that’s something family can ask kupuna about and also look for challenges to independent living.

“One of the biggest issues would be safety,” Lo explained. “Safety issues including, are they able to get food for themselves? Are they able to cook properly? Are they seeing their doctors on a regular basis?”

Furthermore, it’s important to see if seniors are keeping sharp with activity and connection.

“Just think whatever’s good for the heart is going to be good for the brain,” Lo explained. “So physically active, I don’t expect marathons, but 30 minutes a day of some kind of physical activity is very important. staying social and using their brains, so learning new things if you can.”

And among the most valuable activities, talk to them often.

“What makes us human is language, communication and it’s just huge to kind of keep engaging people,” Lo said. “If you just keep someone left in their box by themselves all the time, they don’t live for very long and that’s very important to engage them in different ways.”

November marks Alzheimer’s awareness month and if you feel that you personally or a loved one is dealing with concerning memory loss, Lo advises scheduling an appointment with a primary care physician to start the screening process.

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