Alzheimer’s disease has truly become an epidemic among seniors, with an estimated 5 million diagnoses currently, and that number expected to soar to 14 million by the year 2060. As researchers scramble for a cure or at least an effective treatment option to slow the progression of the disease, there are steps that we can all take to reduce our risk of developing the disease. Known as the six pillars of Alzheimer’s prevention, these steps include:
- Physical activity. Regular, ongoing exercise is beneficial to all of us in a variety of ways, and boosting our defense against Alzheimer’s disease is now another benefit to add to the list. Studies show that remaining physically active can reduce our risk of dementia by as much as 50%. The key is in exercising at least 150 minutes per week at a moderate intensity level, with a combination of strength and cardio activities as well as exercises to improve balance and coordination.
- Socialization. Isolation is, unfortunately, often a concern among the elderly. Maintaining social connections can be difficult for older adults who no longer drive or who are experiencing health concerns. Several suggestions for boosting socialization include becoming involved in the local senior center, making a point to visit regularly with neighbors, and volunteering in the community. The caregivers at Nightingale Home Care can help by providing accompanied transportation to outings, classes, activities, and more, as well as serve as a friendly companion to stave off loneliness.
- Healthy diet. Maintaining a diet low in sugar, trans fat, and refined carbs, and high in fresh fruits, vegetables and foods containing omega-3 fats (such as salmon and tuna) gives your body the defenses it needs to help prevent the inflammation and insulin resistance that can damage brain cells.
- Brain boosters. The jury is still out on the effectiveness of memory games in preventing dementia, but strengthening the brain through learning is shown in some research to have long-lasting effects on cognitive functioning. Any kind of new learning can help: a new language, playing an instrument, even trying to do everyday activities with your non-dominant hand.
- Sleep. Recently, sleeping difficulties in seniors have been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s. Strive for 8 hours of sleep per night, by creating a soothing bedtime ritual, limiting caffeine and heavy meals later in the day, and avoiding napping.
- Calming activities. Ongoing stress has been shown to impact the area of the brain responsible for memory. Reduce stress through incorporating calming activities into each day: meditation, prayer, deep breathing, yoga, a warm bath, soft music, a good book.
If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, the Phoenix home care experts at Nightingale Home Care are on hand to help with our specialized Connections dementia care program. Our Alzheimer’s care specialists are highly trained and skilled in effective management of the disease, and can create an individualized plan of care to ensure that those with dementia are able to live life to their fullest potential.
Contact us for additional Alzheimer’s care tips and resources, or to schedule a free in-home assessment to learn more by calling (602) 504-1555, or complete our simple online contact form to let us know how we can help, and we’ll be in touch with you as soon as possible.