Posted on Dec 5, 2017 in Alzheimers
We all age every day. Each moment we spend on earth is another moment we spend getting older. Although there are many things to look forward to as we get older like retirement and expanding families, there are some things we all wish we could avoid. As we age, so do our bodies. Getting older is a natural part of life that can be extended, but not exiled. One prominent brain impairing disease that is on the rise in our society is Alzheimer’s disease.
What is Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s, although it is not a typical part of normal aging, it is the most prominent form of dementia. In individuals, it can cause memory loss, impaired functioning, behavioral issues and more. Sometimes individuals may be more likely to develop it due to genetic influences, or it might have happened due to a brain injury.
Although it is impossible to determine if and when we will develop Alzheimer’s without pre-existing signs of dementia, there are preventative steps to keep helping our brain functioning at a high rate. Nothing in life is 100% avoidable, but there are certain tips to help with avoiding Alzheimer’s-The following are five preventative measures to reduce risk.
Healthy Eating Habits
Our parents have been telling us to do this since we were little- eat a healthy diet. Although fruits and vegetables may not be the tastiest foods or our ideal snack, they are good for us for a reason. As we age, so do our bodies, and specific food groups have proteins and nutrients that help keep our bodies moving. Carrots aren’t only good for bunnies in need of a boost in vision -They can help us too!
Although there are multiple foods that can help with the prevention of Alzheimer’s, one critical item is omega 3-fats. People tend to get these through fish or fish oil, and these healthy fats help prevent detrimental plaques in our brain that can do immense damage. Healthy diets are important throughout our entire life, but as we age, it is more imperative to take care of our brain and our bodies by providing the proper nourishment they need to function.
Remember in elementary school when we would forget what we learned in our class over the summer because we didn’t practice what we knew? That happens in old age too. When we don’t use certain parts of our brain, our brain decides to “forget” those unused parts, and we lose them, often called pruning. The concept of pruning can be understood in this phrase “If you don’t use them you lose them.”
One way to make sure we keep all our knowledge and memories is to practice and play games/activities that stimulate our minds. Any engaging brain activity will do whether it is playing cards, joining a book club at a senior community, or even becoming a member of a choir where you learn new songs each week.
These activities provide just enough stimulation to keep our brains engaged and prevent the process of pruning. If we keep our minds engaged we will be sharp, quick on our feet, and hopefully avert Alzheimer’s or hold it off as long as our bodies allow.
Exercise is important as we age. Even if we cannot perform to the same level we once did, minimalistic movement is still good. The more we move, the more our body is alert. Sometimes it is hard to exercise if we are injured or prevented due to diseases or injuries. Often senior living facilities will offer aerobics or exercise classes – they understand that exercise is important!
Even if you are 95 years old, a short walk is going to do you good.
Some common exercises that can be practiced are as follows:
● Walks lasting appropriate times per individual
● Swimming classes or swimming laps
● Aerobics courses
● Stretching activities
● Fun group games utilizing balls for strength and hand-eye coordination
Exercise keeps your body alert and helps keep your brain working too. Don’t forget that when you exercise, your body isn’t the only thing getting a workout, because your mind is benefiting from the conditioning too.
You are never too old to try something new, especially at one of our senior living communities! Did you always want to learn French? You still can! It is never too late to pick up on a new hobby or create a new routine. In fact, if you break your pattern and try new things, even if you aren’t great at it, you are decreasing your chances for Alzheimer’s. Just like when you get involved in activities that stimulate your brain to benefit you, so does trying new things like learning music, playing Sudoku puzzles, or reading magazines.
By challenging our brains, we are activating reward centers in our brains because when we complete it or do it well, we get excited and feel good about ourselves. We are always learning, and our brains crave nourishment and challenges, so we might as well give our brains what they want and learn something new.
We take naps when we are both young and old. It is a normal part of life to want to sleep and spend extra time in bed taking naps. As we get older, we may need more sleep in the day to help our bodies perform at the level we desire. Although it might be hard to accept that we need to listen to our bodies and nap during the day, it is a natural process that you should pay attention to.
When we don’t get enough sleep, we will suffer. Our brain functioning will be slower; we will feel sluggish, we may doze off or lose focus, or even become unintentionally stressed which can lead to weight gain.
If you feel like you need the extra hour in bed, or have just gone to breakfast and are ready for a nap, listen to your body and catch some Zzz’s; your body will thank you!
Getting older can be scary. There are many unknown factors that can arise like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Sometimes it is hard to prevent things in life, but we can take preventative measures. Although there is no guarantee that if you perform these steps your brain health will sky rocket, your mindful precautions might help prevent or postpone Alzheimer’s.
Every morning we want to spend another day doing the things we love with people we care about, and if we can take a few measures to deliver that daily peace, it is worth the work!