We often are taught how to care for many parts of our body. But what about our brains? For many people, brain health doesn’t become a focus until we are much older. Experts have a lot to say about the connection between Alzheimer’s and what the best ways to improve brain health are. Many of these methods are lifestyle changes that you can begin incorporating immediately.
Fortunately, it’s never too late to begin focusing on your brain, but the earlier you start, the better results you will have. At this upcoming event, speakers passionate about brain health and Alzheimer’s disease prevention and treatment will share actionable steps towards caring for our brains.
Living a brain-healthy life
Kensington Senior Living, in partnership with Hilarity for Charity (HFC) and the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM), presents Brain It On to the Kensington Sierra Madre community.
This free virtual event features brain health experts and celebrity advocates who discuss how to fight Alzheimer’s disease by living a brain-healthy life.
WAM, founded by Maria Shriver, has a mission to discover why Alzheimer’s is more prevalent in women and communities of color. With this purpose in mind, the WAM team shares information and prevention tools to spread awareness.
HFC is led by Seth and Lauren Miller Rogen, with a mission to activate the next generation of Alzheimer’s advocates by educating young people on living a brain-healthy life.
Breakout session topics include:
- Eating for brain health
- Sleep, exercise, and cognitive fitness
- Meditation and emotional wellbeing
- What women need to know about brain health
Attendees will also learn how Alzheimer’s and brain health are related, and are encouraged to start their brain health journeys now.
How Alzheimer’s disease and dementia progress
Alzheimer’s disease can begin many years before symptoms appear. In what is known as the preclinical stage, changes are occurring in the brain with no visible evidence.
Even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms, you can begin to implement lifestyle changes that strengthen your brain and prevent symptoms from worsening — or significantly slow down the progression.
Early stage: Mild symptoms
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, a person may still be living, working, and socializing normally, but they or their loved ones may begin to notice:
- Forgetfulness and problems with concentration
- Difficulty recalling names and recent events
- Trouble staying organized and managing money
- Misplacing valuable items
Middle stage: Moderate symptoms
The middle stage usually is the longest, and can last for many years. Moderate symptoms can include:
- Difficulty learning new things or planning events
- Problems remembering their own name or recent details
- Issues with reading, writing, or working with numbers
As the middle stage progresses, the person may begin to lose track of time and place, develop personality changes or behaviors, and need help with daily activities such as picking out clothing and brushing their teeth.
Late stage: Severe symptoms
In the late stages of Alzheimer’s, the person will require much more advanced levels of care. They can experience:
- Inability to eat, sit, or walk on their own
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
- Lack of awareness of surroundings and recent experiences
- Increased risk of infection
At this stage, focusing on comfort and quality of life are top priorities. Many people will move their loved ones to a community with enhanced memory care to ensure their safety and medical needs are appropriately addressed.
Lifestyle changes: The best ways to improve brain health
While Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can cause great stress for those affected and their loved ones, there’s hope in prevention and maintenance research. Early intervention is key. No matter your symptoms, or lack of symptoms, you can begin implementing healthy brain boosters immediately for the greatest results.
Similarly to any health journey, brain health is a life-long commitment to care for yourself and remain consistent with your routines. Share your journey with friends and family to stay encouraged, and encourage others to join you in your pursuits.
There are two diets research points to when it comes to brain health: the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
DASH helps to lower blood pressure with foods that are:
- Low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol
- High in fruits, veggies, and low-fat dairy
- Whole grains, poultry, nuts, and fish
The Mediterranean diet focuses on:
- Berries, leafy greens, nuts, and whole grains
- Poultry and fatty fish at least twice a week
- Olive oil and other healthy fats instead of butter
Both diets encourage less consumption of red meat, sugar, and salt.
Sleep and exercise: The ultimate cognitive boosters
Physical and mental exercise and improved, longer sleep times are encouraged for overall health and wellbeing. Getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night protects the brain from decline and encourages healing.
These types of physical and mental exercise also help protect the brain and encourage new cell growth:
- Biking, swimming, or running
- Yoga or tai chi
- Listening to or playing music
- Learning new skills
- Playing card games
- Working on puzzles
Be sure to check with your doctor on what types of physical exercise are best for you.
Over time, chronic stress weighs heavily on the brain, and studies have linked stress to memory loss.
Fortunately, bringing healthy foods into the diet and exercising more can help with stress. But what more can be done?
- Develop a healthy work-life balance
- Learn to set boundaries and say “no”
- Focus on one task at a time
- Take breaks during your day
- Practice meditation, yoga, or tai chi
- Develop a spiritual practice to help you cope
- Socialize with friends and family
If you’re struggling with mental health, particularly with depression or anxiety, talk with your doctor about treatment options.
Considerations for women
Women with dementia outnumber men two to one worldwide, with brain scans revealing women’s brain cells dying at a higher rate. Experts believe hormones, stress levels, heart health, and potential misdiagnoses are some of the reasons for the discrepancy.
That’s why organizations such as WAM work to inform women of these extra risks so they can make the appropriate life changes and get the necessary support.
When your loved one needs enhanced memory care
With the right assisted living community, it’s not necessary to wait until the late stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia to move your loved one. In fact, it’s better to make these decisions as early as possible so your loved one can be involved in the decision making.
The Kensington Sierra Madre offers enhanced memory care, for those just beginning to experience symptoms all the way to the late stages. We also offer assisted living for those who are ready to move out of their home and rid themselves of excess responsibilities. We can offer seniors with varying needs help with the best ways to improve brain health.
Our Promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own. This means providing the highest levels of care and comfort in any situation. We focus on ways to bring our residents the greatest joy, purpose, and quality of life — from enrichment opportunities to rehabilitation services.
Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can support you and your loved one as they transition to a community setting.
To learn more about our exceptional assisted living and memory care at The Kensington Sierra Madre, click below or give us a call today for any questions. We promise to love and care for your family, as we do our own.