Some of us may wonder, “Am I getting Alzheimer’s disease?”

We are baffled by the uncertainty of how we will age, and Alzheimer’s disease can have devastating effects on the individual and his or her family. “Age-related cognitive decline” is a clinical term for one of the most terrifying changes that aging can bring: erosion of the mind.

According to the studies of Dr. Andrew Weil, accounted in his book, “Healthy Aging,” Alzheimer’s disease is marked by structural changes in the brain ”“ tangles of filament within nerve cells and accumulation of plaques of an unusual protein outside them. The disease begins as inflammation in the brain, according to Weil. The word “inflammation” suggests the “fire within” ”“ the redness, heat, swelling and pain. Alzheimer’s is a dreaded ailment that destroys the mind while leaving the body intact.

Not everyone will get to age well. To age gracefully means to let nature take its course while doing everything in our power to live as long and as well as possible. Aging, dementia and Alzheimer’s will bring unpleasant changes ”“ among them aches and pains and sadness. They bring frailty, suffering and lapse of memory.

As we age, we look in the mirror and see wrinkles and loss of beauty. Our friends and family members pass on. One of the great challenges of later adulthood is dealing with loss of cherished relationships. This causes real, true sadness and can lead to social isolation.

The best we can do is to accept this inevitability and try to adapt to it. We can all try to be in the best health we can at any age.

It will be hard, but I hope we can enjoy the benefits that advancing age can also bring: richness of experience, wisdom and the power of serenity. Time brings change, and we try to arrive in old age with minimal discomfort.

To that end, there is a movement that is spreading in our nation and in our community to enhance the physical and mental health of seniors. Organizations are providing activities that make seniors feel more alive, more connected to others, more optimistic and less isolated.

One such program on the various aspects of dementia by four local agencies will be presented on Saturday, March 22 at 3 p.m. at First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Kennebunk. “Dementia: Mapping the Journey” is crafted to educate and provide support for local residents, according to organizers. Each speaker will take questions and be available before and after the program for guidance.

The four speakers are: Bill Kirkpatrick, program director for the Maine chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association; Sally Tarte, executive director of A Place to Start; Karen Banning, director of Caring Companion Home Care; and Susan Bertin, life guidance director at Atria Kennebunk. Brochures from these agencies as well as information on dementia will be available. Refreshments will be served, donated by Atria.

To reserve a seat for this presentation, contact Banning at [email protected] or 370-1476. A $5 suggested donation will benefit the Maine Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association in Scarborough.

— Zaffie Hadiaris of Saco is the host of “Zaffie,” a weekly television talk show on Channel 3 Biddeford public access. It can also be seen at Contact Hadiaris at [email protected]