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Kalamazoo Michigan Family Caretaker Teaches Memory Techniques

Suzanne Gernaat explains the overall function of the brain.
Image: Clarice Cook

Alzheimer's research has found that keeping busy with things already learned is not enough to keep the brain active and safe from memory loss. Learning new skills requires the brain to process and store new data, and lack of this exercise is a possible precursor to early dementia.

Suzanne Gernaat of Kalamazoo, Michigan is a retired career teacher of 35 years who has expertise in lecturing and presenting. She combines her skills with her eleven years of experience in caring for family members with Alzheimer's and other dementia diseases She has taught "Memory Matters" workshops in senior facilities and community centers over the last two years.

There are many risk and causes for dementia.

When Suzanne's father and her husband both became afflicted with Alzheimer's, Suzanne realized the need for "Memory Matters" workshops. Her father had Mild Cognitive Impairment that developed into a slow progression of Alzheimer's that lasted nine years. She believes that his dementia was due to "bad health habits."

During the last years of her father's illness, Suzanne's husband became ill with a heart condition. "Jack was always active and very intelligent. He was prescribed a cholesterol medication after a heart procedure that was suppose to be a preventative measure. His cholesterol level was fine. The side effects of the prescription was memory loss."

Suzanne said her husband's memory loss quickly elevated and he was diagnosed with a fast progressive Alzheimer's. His symptoms progressed at an alarming rate over the last two years since he was diagnosed, passing away in January, 2012. Jack went through the phases of loss of speech communication, temper outburst, depression, loss of understanding of space, time and ability to interact, and loss of motor skills.

According to Suzanne, the experience with her father prompted her to start workshop classes to teach memory loss prevention techniques and when her husband developed dementia from the medication side effect, she had one more precaution to add to the list.

Memory Matters is an informative and entertaining class.

Suzanne stated that her workshops are fun and uplifting. The classes are for everyone who would like to improve memory, regardless of the reason. Her lesson plans consist of a positive lecture and a wide variety of activities, including word games, mirror images, audio stories, creative thinking, association, organization and chunking (word gathering) exercises and much more. Suzanne outlines the big picture, the reason for each exercise and how the activity connects and flows in the brain.

To sign up for the ongoing Memory Matters class with Suzanne Gernaat contact the following community centers.

In the Comstock, Michigan area, visit the Comstock Community Center at 6330 King Highway
P O Box 34 Comstock MI 49048 or call 269 345-8556,

The Portage Senior Center, 320 Library Lane Portage, MI 49002 or call (269) 329-4555

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