As we age, we might begin to notice changes in our memory that cause alarm. Despite what some might believe, significant memory loss is not a normal part of aging. Taking steps to support our brain health through lifestyle changes is essential to avoid developing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Kensington Senior Living is partnering with important Alzheimer’s organizations to spread information and awareness about improving and protecting brain health.
Learn more about the event, how Alzheimer’s and dementia progresses, and how to incorporate healthy brain changes into your life to keep your mind sharp and focused.
How to live a brain-healthy life
In a partnership with Hilarity for Charity (HFC) and the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM), Kensington Senior Living presents Brain It On, a virtual event dedicated to teaching ways to fight Alzheimer’s by living a brain-healthy life.
Maria Shriver, founder of WAM, and Lauren Miller Rogen, co-founder of HFC with her husband Seth Rogen, are among the speakers discussing the connection between Alzheimer’s and brain health, and how to begin the journey to better brain health.
Topics they cover include:
- Foods to support brain health
- Importance of sleep and exercise for the brain
- Finding peace of mind with meditation or faith
- What women need to know
WAM’s mission is focused on why women and communities of color are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. HFC wants to inspire the next generation of Alzheimer’s advocates, and care for families impacted by the disease.
How Alzheimer’s disease and dementia progress
Alzheimer’s and dementia progress through three main stages, with an unofficial first phase, called the preclinical stage. It’s important to be aware of these stages to understand how focusing on brain health can make a difference.
In the preclinical stage, changes in the brain are occurring but there are no symptoms of disease yet. This stage can last for many years — even decades — before symptoms begin to appear.
In the early stage of Alzheimer’s or dementia, symptoms are mild. The person usually is still living independently, but they or a loved one may begin to notice unusual forgetfulness about names or recent events, misplaced objects, and trouble managing money or making plans.
The middle or moderate stage of Alzheimer’s typically is the longest. The person will experience increasing trouble with remembering events and learning new things, and have issues with reading and working with numbers.
Their independence will lessen as they need assistance with dressing and begin to lose track of time and place. They also may experience behaviors and personality changes.
Symptoms are severe in the late stage. The person will need 24-hour care to ensure their safety and wellbeing, and the care focus shifts to quality of life and comfort. People in the late stage often cannot sit, walk, or eat on their own, and are unaware of their surroundings.
Caregivers often choose to move their loved one to a community with enhanced memory care at this point. However, moving your loved one to a community soon after their diagnosis often can ensure greater comfort and support for all involved, as a senior ages.
Lifestyle changes to support brain health
Since Alzheimer’s progresses slowly over time — and the preclinical stage can occur throughout years prior — it’s never too early or too late to begin focusing on your brain health.
The following lifestyle changes are backed by promising research. Eating well, exercising, getting adequate sleep, and reducing stress can do wonders for your brain health.
These changes can not only preserve your brain but also encourage new cell growth.
Protect the brain with good foods
Experts point to aspects of the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet for brain-healthy foods that nourish and protect. These diets are low in sugar, salt, saturated fats, and red meat, and include:
- Olive oil
- Fatty fish
- Leafy greens
- Whole grains
If your diet is vastly different from this one, slowly begin incorporating these foods and swapping out ingredients to get closer to a brain-boosting menu.
Cognitive fitness: Sleep and exercise
Physical and mental activity combined with quality rest is an unbeatable trio to support brain health. Experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep, which most older people do not get. However, increasing physical and mental activity can help improve sleep.
Aim for 30-60 minutes of walking, swimming, sports, or anything that increases your heart rate several times a week. For mental activity, maintain a social life, play games and puzzles, or learn a new skill to stay sharp.
There’s no doubt that stress weighs heavily on the brain over time. Adequate sleep and regular exercise can help with stress, but discovering your own ways to wind down and relax are equally as important.
Meditation, prayer, yoga, or tai chi are some additional methods to help your body slow down.
Considerations for women
Organizations such as WAM focus on women because they are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Experts believe hormones and stress are a few factors that make women more susceptible, making it even more important for women to lower stress and eat nourishing foods to support their bodies.
Just as with any health and fitness plan, we need support to stay on course. Include friends and family in your journey to help hold each other accountable and work on brain health together.
Finding a community with enhanced memory care
Finding the right assisted living community is an essential part of your loved one’s dementia care journey. Communities such as Kensington Park Senior Living offer enhanced memory care for residents, so they can comfortably “age in place” somewhere safe and familiar.
At Kensington Park Senior Living, Our Promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own. From independent living to advanced care and rehabilitation services, we can meet your loved ones at their unique level of care.
When it’s time to transition to a community, we will be with you every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more about our loving staff and the wide array of services we offer to residents, including expert dining services and life enrichment activities.