Category: Healthy Lifestyle


physicial therapy rehab

Every year, nearly 1/3 of all older adults will suffer from some type of fall. Older adults with dementia, however, are more than twice as likely to fall than those without cognitive impairment. Their falls may also be more severe, perhaps resulting in serious bone fractures, hospitalization, or life-threatening injuries. Persons with dementia that suffer from a fall at home are more likely to be admitted into some type of institutional care. In addition, the cost of treating and rehabilitating seniors that have fallen has sky-rocketed in recent years (Montero-Odasso, 2012).

walking down a hall

Researcher continue to study the most helpful methods for reducing risk of falls and preventing injury in those with dementia. Below are some tips that may be helpful in managing fall risk:

  • Implement a regular exercise program to maintain muscle and joint strength
  • Work with the person’s physician(s) to ensure that medication are not causing adverse side effects that could contribute to falls (e.g. dizziness, vertigo)
  • Maintain a regular toileting schedule for the person
  • Anticipate the person’s needs
  • Have a knowledge for the person’s likes, dislikes, routine, preferences, etc.
  • Ensure that clothing and shoes fit properly and are in good condition. Avoid slippers with no supportive backing, pants that are too long for the person, etc.
  • Clearly label key places in the home or residence, such as the bathroom or bedroom, even if the person has lived there for some time.
  • Ensure that the environment is clutter-free. Remove throw rugs that could slip beneath the person.
  • Create a visible pathway from the bedroom to the bathroom, particularly at night. Consider using a bedside commode.
  • If falling in bed is a concern, consider using lowering the mattress directly onto the floor. Do not install bed rails as this could increase the person’s agitation and restlessness. Many individuals with dementia may view bed rails as a sign that they are expected to be incontinent, or they perceive the rails as an obstacle to overcome, increasing the height of their fall. The person could become fatally injured if their head were to get caught between the rails.
  • Make sure the bathroom is not conducive for falls.  Remove clutter, use grab bars, and non-skid strip. A shower chair may be helpful.
  • Use color contrast where appropriate – for instance, a person may not see a white toilet in front of a white wall. Consider using a brightly colored toilet seat to draw the person’s attention.
  • Make sure there is ample lighting in well traversed areas.
  • Provide places for the person to stop and rest, if walking on a long hallway or path.
  • Ensure the person wears sensory aids, such as glasses or hearing aids, if needed.

 

References

Montero-Odasso, M. M. (2012). Gait and Cognition: A Complementary Approach to Understanding Brain Function and the Risk of Falling. Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society60(11), 2127-2136.

van Doorn, C. (2003). Dementia as a Risk Factor for Falls and Fall Injuries Among Nursing Home Residents. Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society51(9), 1213-1218.

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More than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. 505,000 of them reside in Michigan. In 2013, millions of caregivers provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care, a contribution to the nation valued at more than $220 billion.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) caregivers care longer, on average, than those caring for someone without AD. Caregiver stress is known to increase the longer one provides care, making this population particularly susceptible to burnout, depression and other poor outcomes. Caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease are often providing assistance to the person before they even receive a formal diagnosis – making the length of caregiving even greater.

 

Length of Caregiving.png

 

Caregiving for someone with AD can involve multiple types of care, sometimes requiring the acquisition of new knowledge and skills (e.g. how to feed someone), significant time commitments, emotional and psychological stress (e.g. making major decisions), etc.

Clearly, caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or another dementia poses special challenges. For example, the person with AD experiences losses in judgment, orientation, and the ability to understand and communicate effectively. Family caregivers must often help people with AD manage these issues. The personality and behavior of a person with AD are affected as well, and these changes are often among the most challenging for family caregivers. It is not surprising that many areas of the caregiver’s life may be deleteriously affected.

Mental Health

  • 39% of caregivers of people with dementia suffer from depressions compared with 17% of non-caregivers.
  • Increased incidence of anxiety

Physical Health

  • Higher levels of stress hormones
  • Reduced immune function
  • Slower wound healing
  • Increased incidence of hypertension
  • Increased incidence of coronary heart disease
  • Elevated biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk
  • Impaired kidney function
  • Trouble sleeping

Financial

  • 56% of family caregivers report “a good amount” to “a great deal” of caregiving strain concerning financial issues
  • Poor outcomes at the workplace

Professional Outcomes

 

Want to combat caregiver stress? Review the tips listed below:

1. Get a diagnosis as early as possible. Consult a geriatric physician when you see signs of memory loss or personality changes. Don’t delay! Some of the illnesses causing memory loss or personality changes are treatable.

2. Know what resources are available. Your local Alzheimer’s Association Chapter can help you find adult day programs, respite care, visiting nurses, meals on wheels, physicians and more.

3. Become an educated caregiver. Learn about the disease. As the disease progresses, new caregiving skills are required. Read, research, and learn new skills. Learn about resources that are available. The Alzheimer’s Association offers programs to help you better understand and cope with the behaviors and personality changes that sometimes accompany Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Get help! Caregiving is a job, and just like any other job, you can’t do it 24/7. Ask for help early and often. Seek the support of family, friends, and community resources. Help can come from paid caregivers, family or friends.

5. Take care of yourself! Watch your diet, exercise, and get plenty of rest. Make time for yourself. Manage stress as it occurs.

 

 

Hispanic couple kissing

 

 

 

 

 

 

brain

Do computerized brain-training programs really work? Will doing Sudoku or crossword puzzles help to ward off cognitive decline?

As we age, our brain (like the rest of our body) loses some of the agility it once had. Normal aging is associated with a slower processing speed and less efficient working memory in the brain. These age-related changes, however, are modest; they are very different than neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, scientists now know that our brains are able to adapt, change, and re-organize throughout our entire lives — a phenomenon known as “neuroplasticity”. This means our neurons (nerve cells) have the capacity to learn and re-wire, even into old age. An old brain can learn new tricks!

So maybe you’re still asking — will ‘brain training’ help to promote brain health? Buyer beware. The research on such programs is preliminary and should be considered with caution. The games and exercises designed to improve brain performance aim to use neuroplasticity to improve core cognitive abilities; however, it is unclear whether these effects translate to real-life performance or whether these interventions have any appreciable effect on preventing neurological diseases.

In reality, there are many far more compelling interventions that may help to stave off cognitive decline than brain games or mind teasers. For example, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a key component of neuroplasticity. Physical exercise and low-fat diets have been linked to increased production of BDNF and aid in neuroplasticity (Gomez-Pinilla, 2011). Want the most bang for your buck when it comes to brain health? Consider adopting a lifetsyle that incorporates regular physical exercise and a healthy, balanced diet.

Caution: There is still no proven method for preventing or delaying cognitive decline.

References

Gomez-Pinilla, F. G. (2011). Exercise impacts brain-derived neurotrophic factor plasticity by engaging mechanisms of epigenetic regulation.European Journal Of Neuroscience33(3), 383-390.

lumosity.com

Smith, G. M. (2009). A Cognitive Training Program Based on Principles of Brain Plasticity: Results from the Improvement in Memory with Plasticity-based Adaptive Cognitive Training (IMPACT) Study. Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society57(4), 594-603.

Zelinski, E. M., Spina, L. M., Yaffe, K., Ruff, R., Kennison, R. F., Mahncke, H. W., & Smith, G. E. (2011). Improvement in memory with plasticity-based adaptive cognitive training: results of the 3-month follow-up. Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society59(2), 258-265. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03277.x

i love sleeping

Unfortunately for the 15 million caregivers and 5.2 million living with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), sleep disturbances are a common occurrence among those with dementia. These disturbances can diminish the caregiver’s and care recipient’s quality of life. Research indicates that nearly half of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s will exhibit disrupted sleep (Salami, Lyketsos, & Rao, 2011) at some point during their illness.  In AD, sleep disturbances are typically characterized by waking up throughout the night, daytime napping, and daytime drowsiness (Salami, Lyketsos, & Rao, 2011). Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality can also cause disorientation, confusion, and disordered thinking during the day, compounding the cognitive symptoms the person may already be experiencing. Furthermore, sleep disturbances, “increase the risk of physical and psychological morbidity in the persons with dementia and their caregivers” (McCurry et. al., 2011, p.1393) and increase the likelihood of institutionalization.

Sleep is clearly a prevalent issue in AD, but how do we overcome these challenges? More research is needed to effectively answer this question, but below are some evidence-based recommendations that might assist in promoting regular, good quality sleep.

Non-Drug Interventions

  • Maintain regular times for getting to bed and arising.
  • Establish a comfortable, secure sleeping environment — reduce noise or other stimuli, make sure bedding and room temperature are comfortable, provide nightlights and/or security objects.
  • Discourage staying in bed while awake or watching television while in bed; use the bedroom only for sleep.
  • Increase sunlight exposure during the day.
  • Have the person avoid excessive evening fluid intake and empty the bladder before going to bed.
  • Avoid daytime naps if the person is having trouble sleeping at night.
  • Treat any pain symptoms.
  • Engage in regular daily exercise, but no later than 4 hours before bedtime.
  • If the person is taking cholinesterase inhibitors (e.g. Exelon, Aricept) avoid giving the medicine right before bed

sleep

Final Thought

If you notice disturbed sleep in the person with dementia, it may be helpful to have a physician, such as a neurologist, give his opinion. Medication side effects, chronic illnesses, mood disorders, etc., could be contributing to the problem, and a medical doctor is best to address these issues.

References

Cole, C., & Richards, K. (2005). Sleep and cognition in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Issues In Mental Health Nursing26(7), 687-698.

McCurry, S. M., Pike, K. C., Vitiello, M. V., Logsdon, R. G., Larson, E. B., & Teri, L. (2011). Increasing Walking and Bright Light Exposure to Improve Sleep in Community-Dwelling Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease: Results of a Randomized, Controlled Trial. Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society59(8), 1393-1402. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03519.x

Salami, O., Lyketsos, C., & Rao, V. (2011). Treatment of sleep disturbance in Alzheimer’s dementia. International Journal Of Geriatric Psychiatry,26(8), 771-782. doi:10.1002/gps.2609

Do your snacking habits affect brain health? Could your diet choices help to reduce (or elevate) your risk for diseases like Alzheimer’s? As the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease continues to rise (more than 5 millions Americans have a diagnosis), many have been intrigued by these questions. Unfortunately, there is no proven method for preventing Alzheimer’s disease and the research into its prevention is lacking. However, an emerging body of scientific research indicates that certain food choices may be conducive to a healthy brain.

Ever heard the axiom “healthy mind, healthy body”? It’s often true! Hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and other chronic diseases have been associated with an increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. These diseases are harmful to the blood vessels in the body, and they can ultimately cause a lack of blood flow to the brain.

Want to ensure that your diet will protect your body and your mind? Adhering to a heart healthy food selection, like the Mediterranean diet, may help.

mcdc6_pyramid_mediterranean

The benefits of diet on heart health are already well-documented, and many researchers believe that these same disease fighting foods can be beneficial in protecting the brain. The studies conducted on this subject have yielded promising results, however, more research must continue in order to learn more about effective prevention strategies for Alzheimer’s.

Don’t forget, aging doesn’t start when we reach 65. It’s happening to us all the time, everyday! Commit to a healthy lifestyle long-term, and you will be more likely to stave off chronic diseases, like Alzheimer’s. Life is a marathon, not a sprint!

grocery store

Want to give it a spin? Below is a sample grocery list that reflects adherence to the Mediterranean diet. The most effective eating plan is one that works with your preferences and lifestyle. Experiment with foods that are most appealing to you and enjoy!

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes
  • Almonds
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Salmon
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Tilapia
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Black beans
  • Cannellini beans
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Tomato sauce
  • Bell peppers
  • Zucchini

References

http://www.alz.org/we_can_help_adopt_a_brain_healthy_diet.asp

Arntzen, K. B. (2011). Impact of cardiovascular risk factors on cognitive function: The Tromsø study. European Journal Of Neurology18(5), 737-743.

Boost your memory by eating right. (2012). Harvard Women’s Health Watch19(12), 1-7.

Féart, C., Samieri, C., Rondeau, V., Amieva, H., Portet, F., Dartigues, J., & … Barberger-Gateau, P. (2009). Adherence to a Mediterranean diet, cognitive decline, and risk of dementia. JAMA: Journal Of The American Medical Association302(6), 638-648. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1146

Mediterranean diet associated with lower risk of cognitive impairment. (2009). Nurse Prescribing7(3), 134.