The Kensington Senior Living recently partnered with Hilarity for Charity (HFC) and the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM) to host the virtual summit, Brain it On! The event featured discussions around Alzheimer’s disease, how it affects families, as well as offered promising research and helpful tips on how to prevent Alzheimer’s.
Brain it On! is the brainchild of Maria Shriver, head of WAM, and Lauren Miller Rogen, co-founder and head of HFC with her husband, comedian Seth Rogen.
This interactive virtual gathering brought together the world’s leading experts on Alzheimer’s.
Brain it On! is a continuation of The Kensington Senior Living’s Alzheimer’s educational series, including previous work with UCLA around Alzheimer’s detection and diagnosis.
In case you missed the Brain it On! event, we’ve provided key takeaways so you can help your loved one prevent or manage Alzheimer’s.
Key Takeaways from the Brain it On! Discussion
Eating for Brain Health
Eating a healthy diet has the power to reduce cognitive decline in all forms, including Alzheimer’s.
Expert neurologist and nutritionist, Dr. Ayesha Sherzai M.D., recommends eating a healthy brain diet consisting of these superfoods:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Whole grains (oats, quinoa)
- Seeds (flax seeds, nuts)
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower)
Dr. Sherzai says, “The closer you are to a plant-based diet, the better you will age.”
Dr. Jennifer Zientz, head of clinical services at the Brain Performance Institute, spoke about the brain’s ability to adapt to change (neuroplasticity) and produce new brain cells (neurogenesis).
The importance of sleep and exercise were discussed and she explained how it helps the brain reset itself to stave off Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Zientz also spoke about building up a “cognitive reserve” of new experiences in the brain and how trying new things has the power to prevent cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
Peace of Mind
Meditation, when practiced persistently, has the power to create a lasting change in the brain.
Dr. Dharma Khalsa, an expert in treating Alzheimer’s, spoke about a new term called “spiritual fitness,” which is a new concept in medicine. Spiritual fitness interweaves meditation with an improved psychological sense of well-being.
He also gave an important tip on how to prevent Alzheimer’s — have a strong purpose in life. He mentioned that caregivers and people with a strong sense of purpose in life have a decreased chance of developing Alzheimer’s later in life. So finding a purpose is important for all of us in maintaining a healthy brain.
Women and Brain Health
Two out of three people with Alzheimer’s disease are women. It’s thought this elevated percentage is due to women’s brain changes after menopause.
Estradiol, an important form of estrogen for women, greatly diminishes after undergoing menopause, which leaves a woman’s brain more susceptible to developing brain disease later in life.
Currently, hormone replacement therapy is being tested to help women overcome the challenges of reduced estrogen after menopause.
While some of these medications can increase the odds of developing breast cancer, Roberta Diaz Brinton, director of the UA Center for Innovation in Brain Science at the University of Arizona Health Sciences, spoke about a new type of medicine being tested that improves brain health while reducing the chances of developing breast cancer from hormone replacement therapy.
The Known Causes of Alzheimer’s and How to Prevent It
Alzheimer’s disease and its complications are theorized to be caused by protein build-ups in and around brain cells.
In particular, there are two types of proteins — amyloid and tau, which can clump up and form plaque and tangles around brain cells.
- When amyloids, a sticky protein found in the brain, clump together, they can block neurotransmitters from sending and receiving messages in the brain cells. This is often referred to as “plaque” in the brain.
- Tau, another sticky protein, can similarly build up within the brain to form “tangles.” These tangles block nutrient transport within the brain, causing brain tissue to atrophy and die.
Age is the number one factor when it comes to developing Alzheimer’s disease, with the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease doubling every five years after you reach the age of 65.
People who have had significant brain or head injuries are more susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s later in life, and there appears to be a hereditary link to Alzheimer’s.
There is a link between cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s. Smokers, people with diabetes, and those who are obese have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Current Treatments and Solutions for a Loved One
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that currently has no cure. However, there are many prescription drugs available that can slow the effects of Alzheimer’s and help manage symptoms.
Certain medications available can slow down the breakdown of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter in the brain. By slowing down the breakdown of acetylcholine, the brain can improve its memory or thinking abilities.
There are other drugs available that treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, allowing people to perform their activities of daily living longer than without any treatment.
There are currently medical studies underway testing the effects of anti-amyloid antibodies, drugs that are thought to reduce the amount of amyloid plaque in the brain. These studies are being performed on people who are primarily in their 40s to test whether or not Alzheimer’s can be prevented from forming later in life.
The Kensington Sierra Madre Memory Care Neighborhoods
Our communities provide a safe, secure, and comfortable option for a loved one dealing with memory loss.
Our enhanced medical license enables us to provide a higher form of care for your loved one over the traditional assisted living community.
The Kensington Sierra Madre’s campus features a team of trained nurses who work around the clock to provide exceptional care for your loved one. We offer on-site rehabilitation, and an on-site physician’s office as well.
- Connections is our neighborhood for those with early to mid-stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Connections is a fully secured environment to maximize safety for your loved one while living in a home-like space that fosters calm and comfort.
- Havens is our neighborhood for people with mid to late stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia and provides the highest level of care for our residents. This specially designed community features carefully designed carpet, memory boxes, and color coordination to help minimize confusion. The neighborhood is also fully secure and is filled with happy sounds and smells to spark our resident’s memories and imagination.
At The Kensington Sierra Madre, we extend Our Promise to you: to love and take care of your loved one as we would our own.
If you have a loved one experiencing memory loss and want to find out more about our memory care programs, please contact us today to learn how we can help your loved one age in place.