5 Ways to Reduce Your Chances of Developing Dementia

Author

Amira Choice Sarasota

For more information about the author, click to view their website: Amira Choice

Posted on

Aug 09, 2023

Book/Edition

Florida - Sarasota, Bradenton & Charlotte Counties , Florida - Southwest

Whether you happen to be the care partner/family member of a person living with dementia or a professional in the field of dementia care, you have likely worried about the possibility of developing dementia yourself. There seems to be more hope than ever before that we actually can stack the deck to prevent dementia, at least in a majority of cases. No matter how old we are right now, we can improve the health of our brain.

Messaging on the topic of brain health from a variety of experts is clear: the #1 prescription to ward off dementia is EXERCISE.

A PhD student was walking on a beach one day with a neurologist friend. He asked the neurologist what would be the first thing the neurologist would do, if he was diagnosed with dementia. The neurologist replied, “I would start doing 15 hours per week of aerobic exercise, and I think that would turn it around.” That’s a stunning statement. Whether you believe that’s possible or not, the idea of EXERCISE being THE BEST thing for your brain has been around for quite a while. It is currently backed up by more solid research than other recommendations concerning preventing dementia. If walking is your preferred mode of exercise, brisk walking can be effective for increasing your heart rate. Of course, it is important to check with your doctor about what is okay for YOU to do in terms of exercise, if you are not already clear on that.

Here are other recommendations for preventing dementia, which are being more fully studied as we speak:

2. GET ENOUGH SLEEP: There is evidence that as we sleep, the body heals and memory is strengthened. Enough sleep (7-8 hours/night) can improve your chances of avoiding dementia in the future. During sleep, metabolic debris in the brain is actually flushed away. This includes sticky proteins that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. If you have trouble sleeping, the advice is to avoid naps, and try to develop a regular schedule for sleep, and make sure your room is cool, quiet and dark. Yes, this may be challenging if you are caring for a person with dementia who gets up in the middle of the night and needs attention. If you exercise in the morning rather than later in the day, that can help you sleep better. Establishing bedtime rituals to help you relax and unwind can be helpful too. Consult your doctor if nothing seems to work.

3. MANAGE STRESS: This can involve a number of strategies. TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF, even if it’s just a few minutes to close your eyes, breathe, and do nothing. Many mindfulness apps are available to guide you in short meditations and/or to help you relax before sleep. See Healthy Minds Innovations as one example. DOING FUN THINGS is part of managing stress, as is CONNECTING WITH OTHERS (which can be fun). Social isolation can speed up the process of developing dementia – I sure saw that happen with my own mother during the year after my dad died. As a widow myself now, I have learned the importance of reaching out to others. It’s not always easy but it is essential. Remaining socially connected is vital to well-being and to the health of our brains.

SEEK PURPOSE AND MEANING. A sense of purpose helps balance the stress of life. People never lose the drive to be of use to others. People with dementia still have that drive, but it may not be obvious. We must help them express their interests and passions. Purpose can be expressed in a myriad of ways. It’s worth pondering what brings and has brought MEANING to your life. Are you as deeply connected to what gives you a sense of purpose as you’d like to be?

4. KEEP LEARNING. If you’ve always done crossword puzzles, well, do them for fun if you want, but if you find something NEW to learn, your brain will thank you even more. Take a class on something you’ve never explored before. The brain is still able to make brand new neural connections as we age. You can also challenge yourself by changing your routines even a little. Do you walk the same route when you take a walk? How about changing it up? You can even try brushing your teeth with your other hand, it’s good for your brain, though a tad inefficient!

5. NOURISH YOURSELF. Generally, eating more fruits and veggies, less red meat and minimizing processed foods is recommended. Beans, sweet potatoes, nuts and whole grains are especially helpful. As dementia can be caused by vascular issues, what is good for the heart is good for the brain. The Mediterranean diet (The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook by John Chatham looks like a good introduction) is recommended by the American Heart Assn. as well as the American Diabetes Assn., is conducive to brain health. Fruits and vegetables have a myriad of benefits. They are a great source of vitamins and minerals. Do check with your physician if you are on any medications, as some foods (green leafy vegetables, for example), may not be compatible with some meds. You might want to check with your doctor about dramatic dietary changes, to make sure they are a good fit for you.

For more ways to support healthy caregivers reach out to us at Amira Choice, where we offer memory care and support groups for those caring for a person with dementia.


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Top 3 Modifiable Risk Factors for Dementia, According to Recent Study

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Amira Choice Sarasota

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At Amira Choice Sarasota, we understand the importance of providing compassionate support for the routines of daily living, enabling our residents to feel comfortable, confident, and purposeful in their home environment. Our dedicated caregivers are equipped and experienced to assist with activities such as dressing, bathing, and medication management, ensuring that residents receive the help they need while maintaining their independence.By offering a helping hand, our residents can fully enjoy the amenities and offerings available at Amira Choice Sarasota, including chef-prepared meals, inviting outdoor spaces with comfortable lounge seating, daily events, and comprehensive fitness and wellness programs. Scheduled group transportation makes it convenient for residents to explore the surrounding area and participate in outings.Prior to move-in and throughout residency, each resident undergoes evaluations by our Director of Health Services. These evaluations, combined with input from physicians, caregivers, and family members, inform the creation of individualized service plans tailored to meet the unique needs of each resident. We recognize that the right level of support can significantly enhance someone's daily life, and we are dedicated to providing personalized care that promotes well-being and quality of life for all residents.

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It's evident that Amira Choice Sarasota is deeply committed to providing exceptional Memory Care services for individuals living with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. Your compassionate caregivers, specially trained to support residents in leading meaningful lives, offer individualized service plans tailored to each resident's unique needs.Partnering with Ebenezer and implementing their Dimensions program demonstrates a dedication to staying at the forefront of dementia and memory care practices. This multifaceted program emphasizes relationship-based care, nutrition and wellness, creative engagement, serene environments, and ongoing staff training, ensuring that residents receive the highest quality of care and support.Moreover, your focus on supporting families through various resources, research, and community activities fosters a sense of belonging and understanding among all involved. The easy-to-navigate Market Street within your community provides residents with opportunities for independence and engagement, with amenities like a bakery, salon, barbershop, and ice cream stand.The inclusion of activities, events, and outdoor spaces like the enclosed courtyard and garden highlights your commitment to enhancing residents' overall well-being and quality of life. And with chef-prepared meals served daily in the dining room, residents can enjoy nutritious and delicious fare in a welcoming and social atmosphere.Overall, Amira Choice Sarasota's Memory Care program reflects a holistic approach to care, ensuring that residents feel supported, engaged, and valued as they navigate their journey with memory loss.