Dementia is a complex condition with numerous causes and risk factors. While it is impossible for seniors to do anything about their age or family history of the condition, they can significantly reduce their risk of dementia by focusing on controllable factors. The following are six essential components of a brain-healthy lifestyle. The more your loved one focuses on each area, the better the chances of maintaining his or her cognitive function.
Physical activity maintains and creates the neural connections necessary for healthy brain function, and it also increases blood flow to the brain. Seniors can reduce their risk of dementia by half with regular physical exercise. Even a 10-minute walk a couple of times a day is a step in the right direction. Consult a doctor before starting any exercise regimen.
If your aging loved one requires transportation to participate in fitness classes or needs help exercising at home, consider hiring a caregiver. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same home care. West Hartford families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
The human brain does not thrive in isolation, so you should encourage your loved one to develop and maintain a network of friends. Here are a few ways seniors can connect with others:
- Taking group classes
- Visiting local senior or community centers
- Joining a church or civic club
Follow a Healthy Diet
Metabolic disorders can lead to inflammation and insulin resistance that interferes with the communication between brain cells. Maintaining healthy eating habits protects the brain and reduces the risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders. Encourage your loved one to take the following steps:
- Reduce sugar intake
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Avoid trans fats
- Limit processed foods
Engage in Mental Stimulation
Encourage your loved one to engage in brain stimulating exercises that require communication, organization, interaction, or multitasking. Some examples include:
- Learning a new skill
- Performing a familiar task in a different way
- Doing memorization drills
- Playing games or working puzzles
Get High-Quality Sleep
Adults should get seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Chronic sleep deprivation naturally slows thought processes and can negatively affect mood. Individuals who do not get high-quality sleep also tend to have higher levels of a protein called beta-amyloid in their brains, which may contribute to plaque formation that can cause cognitive decline. The following tips can enhance your loved one’s quality of sleep:
- Follow a regular sleep routine and schedule
- Keep TV and other electronics out of the bedroom
- Limit napping
Some older adults have a difficult time falling asleep because of depression, anxiety, or stress. Lack of sleep can lead to a variety of health conditions in the senior years. Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. West Hartford seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.
Chronic stress can interfere with nerve cell growth and shrink areas of the brain associated with memory formation. Stress management techniques can protect the brain and reduce your loved one’s risk of developing dementia. Encourage your loved one to try the following techniques:
- Engage in a relaxing activity
- Laugh often
- Practice meditation and focused breathing exercises
While there is no cure for dementia, there are medications, diets, and programs available that can delay or prevent the condition. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. West Hartford, Connecticut, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity. To learn about our revolutionary dementia care, call a qualified Care Manager today at (860) 372.4500 today.