Adventures in Eldercare September 2011
The latest research on the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease was recently released in the publication, Alzheimer’s in America: The Shriver Report on Women and Alzheimer’s, a study by Maria Shriver and the Alzheimer’s Association. Here are some highlights from the report.
Although there is no cure or proven prevention strategies, there are many good studies showing that certain lifestyle choices are associated with increasing brain health and potentially decreasing one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Some of the strongest brain-health research links a healthy heart with a healthy brain. Conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes that damage heart and blood vessels are associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Basically, your blood feeds your brain, so if your arteries are blocked; fewer nutrients get to the brain, which may lead to cognitive decline. The following three factors are most closely linked to good brain health.
Exercise — particularly exercise that’s good for the heart — may improve cognitive function. Let me stress that ANY exercise done regularly will help. No excuses, get moving! Call my office if you would like specific age-appropriate exercises.
Healthy diet – A diet rich in nuts, fish, tomatoes, poultry, vegetables, fruits and dark leafy greens — in combination with the low intake of high-fat foods — has a 30 percent reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. These foods are all rich in folate, vitamin E and omega-3s; nutrients that help protect the brain from neurodegeneration. While the mechanism by which they work is still unclear, these nutrients are healthy on so many levels that you might as well load up. The next time you make dinner, try a salad of spinach, salmon and almonds to get all three of these beneficial nutrients in one meal.
Strong social interactions and engaging in regular mental activity is associated with decreased risk of cognitive decline. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones. Make sure you do something to challenge your mind every day, whether it’s a crossword or a good book. Even better, combine the two. Engage yourself in activities that force quick decisions — like cards or board games — and you’ll get your social interaction and mind challenge at the same time.
There is still a lot we need to find out about the how’s and why’s of Alzheimer’s disease but the above strategies have full support from researchers. Maintain your overall health — physical, nutritional and psychological. Exercise to improve cardiovascular health, load up your diet with fruits and vegetables rich in potent nutrients such as folate and omega-3s, and engage your mind. A healthy body could be the key to keeping your mind sharp well into old age
Dr. Bruce Veltri operates Victoria Eldercare, a non-medical home care agency matching exceptional care-givers with elderly seniors, to help them maintain independence and remain safely in their own home. Victoria Eldercare can be contacted by phone, 519-429-2644 or the web-site, www.victoriaeldercare.com