Alzheimer's and Dementia Archives — The Wesley Communities

What is a “Continuum of Care”?

If you have been looking at various senior living options, including continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs, also called life plan communities), you have likely heard or seen the term “continuum of care” used. It’s an important concept when it comes to the variety of services provided by retirement communities, but it is also a term that is unclear to many prospective residents. So, let’s dig in and answer the commonly asked question: What is a “continuum of care”?

First, the definition…click the link above to learn more.


The Role of Diet in Active Aging

Through all stages of life, the concept of maintaining a “healthy diet” is one we are constantly reminded of. Across the board, many regular diets are to include nutrient-rich foods in a variety of categories such as fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, dairy, meat, fish, and poultry.

However, as we grow, our unique health needs vary and many times, diets require adjustments with increases in certain food groups, and decreases in others. Especially for older adults, it’s important to understand the role diet plays in active aging, and how to determine the type of diet that is best for you and your health needs.

A few diets that have been well-received by dieticians and nutritionists specifically for seniors include the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH Diet and the MIND Diet. Click the link above to read more.


Game On: Can Brain Games Improve Your Memory?

There are a number of so-called “brain game” products on the market these days. These typically are computer or smartphone/tablet-based games that claim they can help improve seniors’ cognitive function and memory. But do they really work? Could playing video games be the secret to decreasing the prevalence of neuro-degenerative conditions like dementia? And what about things like crossword puzzles and sudoku—can they help seniors stay mentally sharp? Click the link above to read the full article.


Making the Transition for a Loved One to Memory Care Support

Caring for a parent or loved one with memory loss is no easy task. While it is a commendable and selfless responsibility to take on, with it comes many obstacles and challenges. With the numerous life adjustments that need to be made such as priorities shifting, adapting your home for safety precautions, and the emotional toll that it can have on everyone included, it is often found that considering a transition to a community with memory care support makes a lot of sense. At all of The Wesley Communities, we have a trusted team to help make your transition as easy as possible while putting your needs and the needs of your loved one first. We’ve compiled some helpful tips you may find useful. Click the link above to learn more.

 

 


How CCRCs Can Ease Retirement-Related Fears

One subject that is frequently voiced among prospective residents of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs or “life plan communities”) revolves around the stress associated with envisioning and planning for the future, and indeed, it can feel like a daunting task since none of us have the luxury of a crystal ball. The results of a recent survey speak directly to some of these concerns. Click the link above to learn more about the results of the survey and how CCRCs may ease the fears related to retirement.


What to Look for in Memory Care Communities

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or is faced with another serious memory loss condition, there is a good chance they will require professional memory care services at some point. Finding a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, or “life plan” community) with memory care will make life for the patient, loved ones, and caregivers more comfortable and enjoyable.
Click above to learn what to look for in a memory care community.


Common Types of Memory Lapses

It’s normal to forget things from time to time, and it’s normal to become somewhat forgetful as we age.  But how much forgetfulness is too much?  How can you tell if your memory lapses are part of the aging process, or if they are a symptom of something more serious?
We’ve all misplaced keys, blanked on an acquaintance’s name, or forgotten a phone number. When we’re young, we do not pay attention to these lapses, but as we age, sometimes we worry about what they mean.  While it’s true that certain brain changes are inevitable when it comes to aging, major memory problems are not one of them.  That’s why it’s important to know the differences between normal age-related forgetfulness and the symptoms that may indicate a developing cognitive problem.
People with some forgetfulness can use a variety of techniques that may help them stay healthy and maintain their memory and mental skills.  Here are some tips:

  • Plan tasks, make “to do” lists, and use memory aids, like notes and calendars. Some people find they remember things better if they mentally connect them to other meaningful things, such as a familiar name, song, book or TV show.
  • Develop interests or hobbies and stay involved in activities that can help the mind and body.
  • Engage in physical activity and exercise. Several studies have associated exercise (such as walking) with better brain function, although more research is needed to say for sure whether exercise can help to maintain brain function or prevent or delay symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
  • Limit alcohol use. Although some studies suggest that moderate alcohol use has health benefits, heavy or binge drinking over time can cause memory loss and permanent brain damage.
  • Find activities, such as exercise or a hobby, to relieve feelings of stress, anxiety or depression. If these feelings last for a long time, talk with your doctor.

If you’re concerned that you or someone you know has a serious memory problem, talk with your doctor.  He or she may be able to diagnose the problem or refer you to a specialist, such as a neurologist or geriatric psychiatrist.  When it comes to memory, it’s “use it or lose it.”  Just as physical exercise can make and keep your body stronger, mental exercise can make your brain work better and lower risks of mental decline.


Keep Your Brain Healthy

Can Alzheimer’s disease be prevented? Researchers across the world are racing towards a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. But as prevalence rates climb, the focus has broadened from treatment to prevention strategies. What they’ve discovered is that it may be possible to prevent or delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias through a combination of healthy habits. Most causes of dementia are not preventable. However, many drug companies, foundations, and non-profit organizations are all actively researching ways to slow, delay, and prevent dementia. Many are particularly focused on Alzheimer’s disease.
Vascular dementia is caused by a series of small strokes. There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of stroke. If you smoke, quit. If you have high blood pressure and/or diabetes, talk with your doctor about getting those under control. Many studies strongly suggest that a low-fat diet and regular exercise may also reduce the risk of vascular dementia.
Some conditions mimic dementia or have dementia-like systems. Those include changes in blood sugar, sodium and calcium, as well as low vitamin B-12 levels. If caught early, these may be treatable. If you have symptoms, don’t delay seeing your doctor.
Diet
Evidence suggests that eating a Mediterranean diet may decrease your risk of developing AD. A Mediterranean diet consists of little red meat and large amounts of the following:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Nuts, olive oil, and other healthy fats

Social Engagement
Research suggests that seniors who spend most of their time in their home environment are almost twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as those who travel out of town. It is unclear whether better health results in more travel or more travel results in better health.
Raise Your C Level
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, essential for healthy skin and blood vessel functioning, but some studies suggest it may also protect against dementia-related brain plaque. Oranges, limes and lemons are a convenient source of ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C), as are sweet peppers, strawberries, cantaloupe, tomatoes, broccoli and leafy greens.
Get Full of Beans
Beans and green peas provide a rich source of B-complex vitamins, which may play a role in protecting against brain shrinkage, as well as in maintaining blood sugar levels and a healthy nervous system. Vitamin B-1 (thiamine and folic acid) is also found in enriched grain products and cereals.
Get Some Sun
New research suggests that adults with low levels of vitamin D may have a higher risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s or other cognitive problems. Exposing your sunscreen-free face, back, arms or legs to no more than 10-15 minutes of sunshine a few times a week could boost D levels.
Get Plenty of Omega-3 Fats
Evidence suggests that the DHA found in omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by reducing beta-amyloid plaques. Food sources include cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, and sardines. You can also supplement with fish oil.
Learn Something New
Study a foreign language, learn sign language, practice a musical instrument, read the newspaper or a good book, or take up a new hobby. The greater the novelty and challenge, the larger the deposit in your brain reserves.
Establish a Regular Sleep Schedule
Going to bed and getting up at the same time reinforces your natural circadian rhythms, your brain’s clock response to regularity.
There’s less of a separation between brain and body than you might think. As mentioned above, what’s good for the body — like sleep, exercise, and nutritious food — is also good for the brain. And that also means that the converse is true: things that are bad for the body are also damaging to the brain. You owe it to yourself to work with your body to keep your brain healthy.


Take Our Memory Quiz

It has happened to all of us — we forget where we put our car keys, we are talking and forget what we are saying mid-sentence or we see someone we know, but can’t for the life of
it remember his or her name. We joke and say “oh.. just a sign of old age.” Or is it?
November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and a great time to test our memory skills.
Did you know that women are twice as likely to get Alzheimer’s versus men? Doctors assume it is because they live longer, but recent research suggests that biological differences may be the reason that women are at higher risk than men. In fact, one study from Duke University linked hormonal or genetic factors to increased memory loss.
While some instances of early onset Alzheimer’s has occurred in people as young as 50 years of age, the average age for increased memory challenges usually hits around 60. If you have noticed some instances where your memory appears “off,” you are not alone. On October 27th, AARP announced the formation of the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) to bring together doctors, scientists, and leaders in academia and policy experts from all over the world to better inform people how to keep their brains healthy.
Below are ten questions crafted by brain health experts. This test is not meant to be diagnostic. If you have concerns, however, it is always a good idea to talk with your family physician. Each question should be answered with a “Yes” or ” No.”
1) Your kids or grandchildren show up for Sunday dinner—-and you completely forgot they were coming.
2) You run into a friend and start to ask about his daughter, but can’t remember her name–until later.
3) You sometimes look in the mirror and do not recognize yourself.
4) You always miss the turn on the road to your grandkids’ regular soccer field.
5) You find your glasses in the freezer, your watch in the sink or other objects in weird places.
6) Your friend told you some great news about his wife’s new job. You were certain he told you at lunch, but it turns out he told you over the phone.
7) You’ve always been a pro at budgeting expenses, but now your bills/checking account are a complete mess.
8) You made a doctor’s appointment months ago, but completely forgot to go.
9) Your spouse or partner tells you that you repeatedly ask the same questions.
10) Your mother recently passed away. You’re having trouble sorting through all of the papers.
Quiz Results:
If you answered YES to questions 2,4,6, 8 or 10, you are either showing signs of normal memory loss due to aging or another factor (stress, grief, lack of sleep) may be affecting it.
If you answered YES to questions 1,3,5, 7 or 9, trouble recognizing everyday objects, putting common things in unusual places or repeating the same question within an hour, these may be the warning signs of some serious memory loss. Family members are often the first to notice symptoms, so be open and listen to their concerns. And talk to your doctor about having your memory checked.
If you answered NO to all questions? That is amazing. Whatever you are doing is contributing to great brain health. Keep it up!


Can Music have Healing Powers for Alzheimer's Patients?

Do you believe in the power of music? Is there a certain genre you like to listen to when you want to relax, and another when you want to have fun? I personally believe that music has a way of reaching deep within a person, and in some cases soothing the soul, relaxing the mind and often lifting one’s spirit. Research says that for Alzheimer’s patients, music can be good medicine. While research on the neurological effects of music therapy is in its infancy, what is known is that listening to music activates a number of regions in the brain. Scientists say the brain responds to music by creating new pathways around damaged areas.
Think about it, usually after about 20 minutes of listening to music, there are observable effects, such as singing, foot tapping, and clapping.   The positive effects of music therapy sessions have been know to last for several hours after the session have ended. Its been said that music is to the mind what exercise is to the body. When used appropriately, music can shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, and coordinate motor movements. Most people associate music with important events and emotions, and the connection can be so strong that in hearing the song long after the occurrence evokes a memory of it.
If you’d like to use music to help a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease, consider these tips:

  • Think about your loved ones preferences. What kind of music does he or she enjoy? What music evokes memories of happy times in their life? If you’re unsure, involve family members by asking them to suggest songs.
  • Set the mood. To calm a loved one during mealtime or the morning hygiene routine, play music or sing a song that’s soothing. Use more upbeat tunes to boost your loved one’s mood.
  • Avoid overstimulation. When playing music, eliminate competing noises. Turn off the TV. Shut the door. Set the volume based on your loved one’s hearing ability. Opt for music that is commercial free as the interruption can cause confusion.
  • Encourage movement. Help you loved one to clap or tap his or her feet to the beat. Encourage dancing if possible.
  • Sing along. Singing along to music together with your loved one can boost the mood and enhance your relationship.
  • Pay attention to your loved one’s response. If your loved one seems to enjoy particular songs, play them often.

Keep in mind that music might not affect your loved one’s cognitive status or quality of life, but it can’t hurt it either and if nothing else it provides time well spent bonding.   Pay close attention to facial expressions to help with those who cannot verbally communicate. To be effective, music therapy must be tailored to the functional capacity of each individual patient. If you are unsure of how to get the most out of music therapy for your loved one, consult the health and wellness counselor at your community.