Pillar #: Social Engagement
Human beings are highly social creatures. We dont thrive in isolation, and neither do our brains. Staying socially engaged may even protect against symptoms of Alzheimers disease and dementia in later life, so make developing and maintaining a strong network of friends a priority.
You dont need to be a social butterfly or the life of the party, but you do need to regularly connect face-to-face with someone who cares about you and makes you feel heard. While many of us become more isolated as we get older, its never too late to meet others and develop new friendships:
- Join a club or social group.
- Visit your local community center or senior center.
- Take group classes .
- Get to know your neighbors.
- Make a weekly date with friends.
- Get out .
The Importance Of Vascular Health
At present, researchers are still trying to understand the causes of Alzheimers disease and how to treat it.
But, vascular causes of dementia are another story. Vascular disease can cause or worsen dementia. Diseased blood vessels, along with high blood pressure, can cause tiny areas of bleeding or blocked blood flow to the brain silent strokes that may not even cause noticeable symptoms.
But when these small areas of brain injury happen over and over again, a person can develop problems with memory, gait, balance and other brain functions. Researchers are exploring the role of vascular disease in the development of Alzheimers dementia in particular, but its not yet clear if or how this occurs.
Taking steps to improve the health of your blood vessels involves lifestyle changes. Since brain changes can start decades before dementia symptoms appear, the earlier you begin preserving your vascular health, the better for your brain.
Heres a bonus: Improving blood vessel health helps you avoid stroke, heart attack and other serious diseases.
It’s been estimated that one in three cases of dementia is preventable. You cant do anything right now to stop or reverse the underlying mechanisms of Alzheimers disease, but you can do something about hypertension and vascular disease risk factors.
Top 16 Foods That Lower Your Risk Of Dementia
One of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of Alzheimers and dementia is to change your diet. Sometimes called an Alzheimers diet, eating brain-healthy food can prevent the disease. In the earliest stages, it may even reverse cognitive decline.
What is the best diet for Alzheimers? The best diet for Alzheimers is Dr. Bredesens KetoFLEX diet. This diet encourages a mild version of the keto diet combined with metabolic flexibility. It also promotes 12-hour fasting periods every day, including at least 3 hours fasting before bedtime.
Research has also shown the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet reduces the risk of Alzheimers and dementia. This diet is a hybrid between the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension .
Can Alzheimers be reversed with diet? In the earliest stages of cognitive decline, adhering to an Alzheimers diet may reverse cognitive decline. Unfortunately, theres no surefire Alzheimers cure. However, we have personally observed patients whose cognitive decline was reversed after making lifestyle changes, including changing their diet.
Can dementia be reversed with diet? Advanced dementia cannot be reversed with diet. However, the KetoFLEX 12/3 diet shows promise in slowing cognitive decline and early stages of dementia. Avoid most carbohydrates and focus on healthy fats and non-starchy veggies.
- Bok choy
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What To Do If Diagnosed With Dementia
“The best thing the patients can do to limit the extent of dementia is to keep their mind active, ” says Dr. Yashar. “Learn new tasks and keep your mind engaged. Continue to socialize with friends and family. And make sure to eat a healthy and Lucius diet while getting a good amount of sleep every night.” And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.
Do Keep Eye Contact When Speaking
Communicating with a dementia patient requires a lot of patience, especially during later stages of dementia. It is vital to ensure that you talk in a place that has good lighting, a place that is quiet and without too many distractions. Do not try and stand over the person you are talking to, but rather try to be at their level and keep eye contact at all times. Take care to make sure that body language is relaxed and open. Prepare to spend quality time with the person so that they do not feel rushed or like they are a bother.
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Dementia Prevention: Reduce Your Risk Starting Now
Dementia is defined by loss of memory, problems with thinking and reasoning, and an inability to carry on with work and life activities independently. There are several kinds of dementia. Alzheimers disease is the most common, but for up to a third of people with dementia, even some of those diagnosed with Alzheimers, vascular disease is a major cause.
The good news is you can lower your risk of dementia. A Johns Hopkins neurologist, explains how.
What Do We Know About Reducing Risk For Dementia
The number of older Americans is rising, so the number of people with dementia is predicted to increase. However, some studies have shown that incidence rates of dementia meaning new cases in a population over a certain period of time have decreased in some locations, including in the United States. Based on observational studies, factors such as healthy lifestyle behaviors and higher levels of education may be contributing to such a decline. But the cause and effect is uncertain, and such factors need to be tested in a clinical trial to prove whether they can prevent dementia.
A review of published research evaluated the evidence from clinical trials on behavior and lifestyle changes to prevent or delay Alzheimers or age-related cognitive decline. The review found encouraging but inconclusive evidence for three types of behavioral changes : physical activity, blood pressure control, and cognitive training. The findings mean that interventions in these areas are promising enough that researchers should keep studying them to learn more. Researchers continue to explore these and other interventions to determine whether and in what amounts or forms they might prevent dementia.
Watch a video below that highlights conclusions and recommendations from the research review.
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Paranoia Delusion And Hallucinations
Distortions of reality, such as paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations, can be another result of the disease process in dementia. Not everyone with dementia develops these symptoms, but they can make dementia much more difficult to handle.
Lewy body dementia, in particular, increases the likelihood of delusions and hallucinations, although they can occur in all types of dementia.
Do Try To Be Forgiving And Patient
Do not forget that dementia is the condition that results in irrational behavior and causes dementia sufferers to act the way they do. The patients demand plenty of patience and forgiveness from the people looking after them. Have the heart to let things go instead of carrying grudges around for something that the patient may not be in control of.
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Alzheimers Vs Dementia: Whats The Difference
Both Alzheimers disease and dementia involve cognitive decline, but not all dementia patients have Alzheimers. Dementia is one of the main symptoms of Alzheimers. Alzheimers is the most common type of dementia.
Alzheimers disease is caused by misshapen protein structures in the brain . Over time, the malformations kill the brain cells theyre in, limiting cognitive function.
Because Alzheimers is defined by these microscopic changes in the brain, doctors cant say for certain whether a person has Alzheimers without performing an autopsy.
The early symptoms of Alzheimers disease include:
- Difficulty finding the right words when speaking or writing
- Getting lost easily
When a patient starts to develop noticeable symptoms, Alzheimers medications may help. However, making diet and lifestyle changes seems to be just as effective, if not more so.
What Can You Do
Although there is no effective treatment or proven prevention for Alzheimers and related dementias, in general, leading a healthy lifestyle may help address risk factors that have been associated with these diseases.
Researchers cannot say for certain whether making the above lifestyle changes will protect against dementia, but these changes are good for your health and are all part of making healthy choices as you age.
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World Health Organization Guidelines
These WHO Guidelines, published in May 2019, provide the knowledge base for health-care providers to advise people on what they can do to reduce their risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
The reduction of risk factors for dementia is one of several areas of action included in WHOs Global action plan for the public health response to dementia.
Advice For Paid Care Partners
Paid care partners often help provide care for people with dementia. They often become close to the patient and the family. They may have strong feelings about stopping treatment, and may or may not agree with the family’s decision. This can be stressful. But, it is not the paid care partner’s role to pressure the family, or to discuss their decision. It is important that they support the family, not give their opinions. A smile, sitting together quietly, or a hand on the back may provide the best support.
Here are some helpful things that care partners can say:
- “This is very difficult. I know you will make the best decisions possible.”
- “It might help to discuss this with your doctor or nurse.”
- “The Alzheimer’s Association, a clergy member, or social worker might be able to help decide what to do.”
It is very important that paid care partners don’t give advice or opinions to the family or the patient.
Remember that these issues should be kept private. You can discuss concerns with your supervisor. You can write out your feelings. You can discuss your feelings with a friend or counselor without naming names or specifics. Taking care of others can be difficult: Don’t forget to take care of yourself!
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How Hospice Can Help With End
In addition to helping you in recognizing the signs of dying in the elderly with dementia, bringing in hospice care will help with the physical and emotional demands of caregiving. Nurses will be able to adjust medication and care plans as the individuals needs change. Aides can help with bathing, grooming, and other personal care. Social workers can help organize resources for the patient and family. Chaplains and bereavement specials can help the family with any emotional or spiritual needs. Additionally, family members can contact hospice at any time, and do not need to wait until it is recommended by the patient’s physician.
To learn more about the criteria for hospice eligibility or to schedule a consultation, please contact Crossroads using the blue Help Center bar on this page for more information on how we can help provide support to individuals with dementia and their families.
The Link Between Traumatic Brain Injury And Dementia Risk
Traumatic brain injury , a risk factor in midlife, is often caused by injuries sustained from automobile, sports accidents and exposure to blasts among members of the military. Severe TBI is linked to abnormal tau proteins, a biomarker of Alzheimers. People aged 50 years or older with a history of TBI are at an increased risk of dementia compared to those without TBI.
Meanwhile, falls are the leading cause of TBI among older adults. And older adults with concussion have double the risk of dementia.
Heres what you can do:To reduce risk of falls for older adults, doing balance exercises and maintaining muscle strength especially in the legs is crucial, Larson said. Lookout for items around your home which can cause a trip. And avoid walking on slick surface barefoot or with stockings.
Read more about past research on TBI and dementia among military veterans, and the different proteins involved in TBI.
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Play Laugh And Have Fun
Taking part in any activity that is mentally stimulating can significantly decrease the risk of developing dementia. By adding humour and fun into the activity, the risk decreases even further.
Playing board games is something you either enjoy or detest.
Many people often discount the value of playing board games as being juvenile and a waste of time. In fact playing board games have been shown to decrease the risk of dementia , however, in the same study it was found that people who did not play board games but did other activities such as writing or participating in group discussions did not reduce their dementia risk.
The important aspect of board games it that it provides an opportunity for socialisation, strategy development and fun .
Do Not Get Angry Or Upset
When looking after persons with dementia, practicing self-control is of utter importance. Learn how to breathe in and just relax without taking things personally or getting angry and upset. Remember that dementia patients do not act the way they do out of their own accord. It is the illness that makes them behave the way they do.
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Brain Risk Factors That Can Be Controlled
- mental activity regularly challenging your brain with mentally stimulating activities through education, occupation or leisure is linked with lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia
- social activity participating in social activities and being connected with your community, family and friends is linked with a lower risk of dementia.
What Do Elderly People Think About Life And Death
As we get older, death seems to be nearer than when we are younger. In as much as anyone can die regardless of age, for an older person, it seems like it is more likely to happen, especially when dealing with different health conditions that the body does not handle as it used to in the younger years.
For older persons, death does not always spell sorrow and terror, as is the case with younger people. Many of the older people are contented with what the short-term future has for them. You may think that people may get anxious as they become older, but this is not the case. Older people do not have much sadness and anxiety, especially related to death. They are actually more positive about life and death.
As we grow older, our perspective shifts. This is when you realize that things are not as they always seem. Most people fear death because they feel that they will lose the things that they have been working so hard to get over the years. However, for older people, this attachment to things acquired is not really pronounced. This is how some of the fear of death actually melts away.
When you look around you and you realize that there are things that are a part of you that will outlive you actually help in a major way. This could be the legacy we have in children or gardens planted. There are yet others who place value on their country, their religion, or families that live on even after they are gone.
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How To Get A Quality Sleep
Reinforce circadian rhythms by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Your brain will respond to regularity.
If you find that you need to nap in the daytime, it can also affect your night time sleep. So, if you need an energising afternoon nap, set a timer for 30 minutes.
Ideally dont use a computer, tablet or your phone in the bedroom or for at least 2 hours before bedtime. Use of these can excite the brain, preventing sleep.
Snoring can prevent a good nights sleep. If you have sleep apnea, then it can be potentially dangerous due to interrupted breathing. See your doctor for advice.
If you have difficulty in falling to sleep, dont lie in bed tossing, turning and worrying about sleep get up make a camomile tea or read an unexciting book.
Have a bedtime ritual. Take a relaxing bath, do some simple stretches, dim the lights. This will signal the brain that it is time for some quality sleep.
Clear your mind of the day by writing a page in your journal. Make to-do lists as this will help you to drop off to sleep without worrying.
Stress, anxiety or negative internal dialogues can prevent sleep. Read or relax in another room. Try a milky drink or turkey sandwich to help aid sleep.
New studies have highlighted that poor sleep is not a symptom of Dementia it, it is a possible risk factor. Advice is that if you are affected by poor sleep patterns, you should seek medical advice. Most adults need 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night.
Make Sure They Can Be Identified
Be sure your loved ones have some form of identification on them. Multiple forms of identification, emergency contact numbers and disclosure of their medical diagnosis of dementia are a good idea, in case one form is removed or lost. You might get an ID bracelet or pendant, or one that laces into shoelaces or attaches to a watchband, as well as identification inside their clothing and in their wallet. My boyfriend suggested a very simple Road ID bracelet with a comfortable wristband like the one he wore when he went running. I purchased one for my dad, and he wore it for eight years, never trying to remove it. Be sure you have recent photos in case they are needed for identification in a search effort to locate an older adult who is missing.
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