February is Heart Health Awareness Month! The American Heart Association recommends that you adopt a long-term, heart-healthy “food lifestyle” and exercise. Bonus time, once you do that, you have a double win, because these same foods will support a healthy brain. Yes, the two are connected! Simple smart food choices will reduce your risks for strokes and other diseases. Strokes develop because of compromised blood flow to the brain (by a clot or hemorrhage) and despite the severity they are linked to dementia. Brain autopsy studies on deceased individuals with dementia found microvascular infarcts, either alone or along with the plagues and tangles, such as those associated with Alzheimer’s. With the facts on the table, it’s clear that the best defense against heart and brain disease are healthy food choices and exercise. What are the healthiest food choices? Well, the first choice for many is the “Mediterranean diet,” but what is it really? Let’s look at the basics.
- Eat Mainly:Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil.
- Eat in Moderation:Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt.
- Eat Only Rarely:Red meat.
- Don’t Eat:Sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods
What about exercise and its role in a healthy heart and your brain? For starters, research backs the mind and body connection. It appears that exercise benefits one’s cognition (reasoning and perception), particularly in areas of executive functioning, associated with improvements in attention, working memory and the ability to multitask. So, what happens to the brain when we work out? First, exercise triggers the production of a protein called “brain-derived neurotrophic factor” or BDNF. This protein helps support the growth of existing brain cells and the development of new ones! As we age, the BDNF levels decline, exercise regardless of age, increases the BNDF process. In addition to this, blood flow which carries oxygen and feeds neural tissues, increase in brain. So the best advice for living to a healthy old age is to eat healthy and exercise. The good news, is that you can begin a healthy lifestyle today by making smart and healthy food choices and adding exercise to your daily routine. Stay tune – next month is Nutrition Awareness Month, and we have tons of tips to keep you healthy – and change your life!
Personal Emergency Response Service’s (PERS) units help seniors remain independent. Teaching senior’s home safety techniques and providing home fall safety checks is in the forefront of keeping seniors independently at home for as long as possible. Studies show that seniors want to be home and they strive when they know they are safe in their own environment. In addition to providing a quality aide to care for a senior, having an additional safety tool, such as a Personal Response Services (PERS) unit adds an extra level of safety. One of the leading personal emergency response services is “Be Safer at Home” and we have partnered with them to offer our clients a variety of products that best suit their needs, at a discount.
Different types of (PERS) units are available depending in the needs and limitations of the senior. The units can be worn around the neck or on the wrist. Some of these units are activated through motion, so if a senior falls and is unconscious or has a stroke and unable to move to activate a button, the devise will activate automatically. Certain units allow seniors to travel with extra security because the devise can be activated while traveling.
Medications are another safety concern for seniors and their care givers. They can forget to take them or forget they took them, which causes either an under or over dose. A devise that monitors their medication is also available. This devise will dispense the required medication daily, enabling medication monitoring by the senior, family member and aide, to insure the proper dose is taken on a regular bases. You can read more about these great products by “Be Safer at Home” at http://www.besaferathome.com/products.html
Driving requires one’s full attention, despite numerous potential visual, manual and cognitive distractions that can impact anyone at any age. Let’s take a closer look at the types of distractions that may impact one’s driving:
- Visual distractions: taking your eyes off the road.
- Manual distractions: taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive distractions: taking your mind off what you’re doing.
As seniors age, their visual, manual and cognitive skills decline making them more susceptible to distractions. When you notice these skills slowing down, it’s time to have “the about limiting or stopping driving.”
To help you decide on the timing of taking the keys away, let’s look at some signs that driving may be dangerous.
Risky individual behavior:
- Does not stop at red lights or stop signs
- Stops at green lights
- Gets lost
- Concerns from people who have seen the senior driving
- Gets in accidents
- Problems with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
- Stroke victim
- Parkinson’s or severe arthritis
- Medication due to poor vision, anxiety, insomnia, or is on any form of narcotics.
If the senior can still drive but there are driving safety concerns:
Encourage them to:
- Drive in areas that are familiar to them
- Do not drive at night or in bad weather
- Stay off highways
- Limit any distractions while driving
- Set a limit of how far away from home they should drive.
- Have safety medical alert system with them at all times.
It is important that we keep our seniors and other drivers on the road safe. These tips can help determine if a senior needs to look at the potential risks and see if they outweigh the benefits of driving. And, perhaps with some help, they will conclude that it’s time to turn in their license.
Hurray! New treatment for Alzheimer’s has the potential to change the course of this disease and others. Previous treatment efforts have focused on a single target (beta-amyloid protein), but now research is targeting a process in the brain that leads to the toxins involved in Alzheimer’s and other diseases. In Alzheimer’s there is a build-up of two toxic proteins (beta-amyloid and tau), which somehow get folded into the wrong shape, and then kink and link to other proteins floating around the cell. This process triggers a chain reaction of clumps and misfolded beta-amyloid and tau proteins that damage brain cells. The new approach to treatment involves a compound that targets protein misfolding which prevents both the beta-amyloid and tau from making these clumps. Currently tests done on mice showed impressive results. There is a class of monoclonal antibodies that work on the tau and amyloid clumps and when given to mice they were able to reverse the disease. Equally exciting is that these targeted antibodies work on clumps associated with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. The future is looking bright for combating all of these diseases!
Having a loved one who is struggling with Alzheimer’s disease is hard. It can sometimes be difficult to handle the stress that comes with caring for someone with this disease. It may be hard to watch them loose their memory, and it can be frustrating having their priorities come above your own. Important things to remember when helping a loved one, is that Alzheimer’s is so much harder on them. Imagine forgetting to do something as simple as, forgetting to turn the stove off after making a cup of tea or forgetting great memories? That is very frustrating and humiliating. An important thing to remember when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is that your efforts are helpful and that you are not alone. There are millions of families dealing with the same things you are dealing with. It is also extremely important to make sure not to neglecting taking time for those things that need to be done. Taking care of yourself in situations like this is also extremely important. Also realize that you cannot do it all, that Alzheimer’s is totally out of your control, and finding a balance is very important. Alzheimer’s can be difficult to manage, but knowing what resources are available and having good coping skills will help with managing the disease.
Join us at the Inn Hastings Park from 11-12. All are welcome to join us. After this date the support group will be the first Thursday of every month.
Support groups are a perfect way to learn new how to best manage the disease for yourself and your loved ones.
Alzheimer’s disease affects 5 million of Americans and thousands more worldwide. But how much do we really know about it and its effect on people around the world? It is the 6th leading cause of death, it’s slightly more prevalent in woman and signs for the disease appear many years sooner than previously realized with subtle symptoms; such as, a decreased ability to identify odors and a buildup of beta-amyloid in one’s eyes. June is National Alzheimer’s month we want you to join us in promoting awareness of the disease and help us find a cure by joining our team “Private Home Care Walkers 2015” in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on September 20, 2015, in Andover, MA. If you are the type of individual who wants to make a difference in the lives of millions, this is a time to make your mark and walk for a cause and a cure. Alzheimer’s doesn’t receive as much press as other diseases, like ALS or breast cancer, but it can be as devastating which is why your support in the walk and helping to find a cure is needed. As the month of June closes, it is very important to act on making a difference and support spreading the word by sharing the walk information with everyone. For more information, visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s website at www.alz.org and learn about the huge impact this disease has on families and society. Also, check their website for opportunities to get involved either through just spreading the word, giving a donation or joining us in the walk.
As humans it is normal to have some moments where we forget things. Normally it is when we have other things on our mind or when other priorities are in the forefront of our brains. But sometimes there are moments when our memory lapses can be scary. Often we don’t realize (or remember – excuse the pun) that our memory needs to be checked. Is it Alzheimer’s forming? If so how can we tell? There are some questions to consider to figure out if memory loss is much more than just forgetting something here or there.
Questions to Ponder:
- How often do memory lapses occur?
Memory loss that interferes with daily life and that is quite frequent — should be checked
- Does the memory loss disrupt daily living?
Dr. Hart, a professor of behavioral and brain sciences at the University of Texas, had concluded that if the memory loss is limiting activity that used to be easy for the person — then one’s memory should be checked.
- Are there signs of confusion?
A popular sign of confusion would be to misplace items and find them again in places they do not belong. For example, keys in the refrigerator. This mistake normally stems from the person dealing with memory loss not knowing where the item normally belongs.
When we are busy it is common to have some memory loss, like forgetting small things such as a name of someone who was just introduced to you. However, to forget people who you have known for a while, repeating information, or repeating questions are all signs that the memory loss is something that may need to be checked.
- Is the memory loss getting worse?
The memory loss should be check by a professional if you feel like it is getting worse over time.
Stay tune. More on memory loss in the coming weeks!
A culture of solving problems with a pill has developed in the last two decades that threatens the nation’s health in every major category. Every age group is also impacted by this growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse.
Many individuals believe that drugs are harmless. However, the statistics on the health risks of all drugs (street or prescription) are by far harmless! Read more about the impact of prescription drugs at: http://www.ahealthblog.com/prescription-drug-abuse-infographic.html
Local Alzheimer’s disease expert returns from the 30th International Alzheimer’s Conference in Perth, Australia with startling statistics. Mary Demakes, Registered Nurse and President of Private Home Health Care, Inc. attended the annual conference with more than 1,500 delegates from over 60 countries.
Alzheimer’s is not just memory loss, Alzheimer’s kills. It is the 6th leading cause of death in the US for those 65 and older. It is the only cause of death in the top 10 in American that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed. Today, “5.3 million American’s are living with Alzheimer’s disease including an estimated 200,000 under the age of 65. Growth estimates suggest that by 2050, up to 16 million will have the disease,” said Mary Demakes. “Nearly two-thirds of those with Alzheimer’s disease 3.2 million are women. Specifically, every 67 seconds in the US, someone gets diagnosed with the disease and 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Yet, only 45% of the people with Alzheimer’s or their caregivers report being told they have the disease” added Demakes. The growing Alzheimer’s crisis is helping to bankrupt Medicare with direct costs of caring for those with the disease, at an estimated $226 billion, of which Medicare bares half.
Current research offer some promise to those afflicted with the disease by providing tools to diagnose Alzheimer’s in its earliest stages. Structural imaging studies show that the brains of those with the disease shrink significantly. Functional imaging research suggests those with the disease have reduced brain cell activity in certain regions. Neuroimaging is among the most promising areas of research focused on early detection. Molecular strategies aim to detect biological clues prior to the disease taking a toll on the “brain structure, function memory, thinking and reasoning” www.alz.org/facts. Current imaging technologies provide researchers with the tools for early detection, better monitoring, and a better understanding of the disease — which will in time lead to a cure.
To help combat the disease, join Private Home Health Care in sharing your story on “Why Your Brain Matters” with Maria Shiver’s “Wipe Out Alzheimer’s Challenge” at https://mybrain.alz.org/you.aspx.
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