Have you ever thought about your brain health? Throughout our lives we learn to focus on different areas of the body for optimal health, but often we don’t consider our brain until we are much older.
In a partnership with organizations dedicated to brain wellness and preventing Alzheimer’s disease, Kensington Senior Living presents an event focused on the journey to better brain health.
Learn more about these organizations and the positive lifestyle changes you can begin implementing immediately to help your brain stay strong and healthy.
The journey to better brain health
Maria Shriver and Lauren Miller Rogan are among the speakers representing their organizations during Brain It On, a virtual summit featuring top brain health experts and celebrities.
Shriver is the founder of the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM), an organization dedicated to discovering why Alzheimer’s discriminates against women and communities of color.
Lauren Miller Rogan and her husband, Seth Rogan, founded Hilarity for Charity (HFC) in efforts to inspire the next generation of Alzheimer’s advocates.
The following breakout sessions for the event feature candid conversations and actionable steps to fight Alzheimer’s and boost brain health:
- Eating for brain health
- Importance of sleep and exercise for the brain
- Finding emotional wellbeing and peace of mind
- What women need to know
Speakers will discuss how brain health and Alzheimer’s are linked, and why it’s important to incorporate brain-healing lifestyle changes.
How Alzheimer’s disease progresses
Knowing how Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia progress can empower people to take control of their health, and discover ways to move toward brain-boosting practices.
The stages of Alzheimer’s are generally split into three main groups: early, middle, and late. Sometimes they are categorized as mild, moderate, and severe. It’s important to understand that each person will progress differently, and not everyone will experience all symptoms.
Besides the main stages, there is what is known as the preclinical stage, where brain changes are occurring but the person isn’t showing any signs of the disease. This stage can last for several years before symptoms begin to appear.
In the early stage of Alzheimer’s or dementia, symptoms are mild. The person probably still lives independently and participates in work and social activities as normal.
However, they or a loved one may begin to notice the following changes:
- Forgetting recent events or new information
- Trouble finding words or expressing thoughts
- Difficulty with planning or solving problems
- Trouble managing money or paying bills
A visit to the doctor can rule out other potential illnesses that cause similar symptoms. Early intervention is key to maintaining quality of life as long as possible.
In the middle stage, symptoms are moderate and gradually become more severe. This can be the longest stage.
- Increased memory loss and confusion, including forgetting details about their own life
- Uncertainty about day of the week, time of day, or season
- Trouble recognizing friends and family
- Personality changes, behaviors, and wandering
- May need support with dressing, bathing, or using the restroom
In the late stage, symptoms are severe and the person requires a high level of care and support. Maintaining quality of life and comfort are the biggest priorities at this stage.
Late-stage symptoms include:
- Significant confusion, and inability to consistently recognize family members
- Needing assistance with basic activities, including toileting, bathing, and eating
- Unable to sit up or walk
- Higher risk of infections
Many families choose to move their loved one to a community with enhanced memory care to ensure their safety.
Lifestyle changes for better brain health at any stage
Since experts know that brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s can occur decades before symptoms appear, organizations dedicated to fighting this disease want to spread brain health awareness.
If we begin implementing brain-health practices as early as possible, we can potentially prevent or significantly delay the development of symptoms. This will result in a much greater quality of life for those who may develop the disease.
Brain health superfoods
Pulling from diets such as the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, nutritionists know of several foods that help keep the brain healthy and memory sharp.
Brain-boosting foods include:
- Fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines
- Coffee and green tea
- Nuts and seeds
- Leafy green vegetables
- Dark chocolate
- Olive oil
The antioxidants, vitamins, and healthy fats in this list have shown the potential to protect the brain and boost its function.
Focus on good sleep and exercise
Sleep and exercise can go hand-in-hand, because they each can help the other improve. Experts say to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep, which will help protect your brain cells and even encourage the growth of new cells.
Increasing exercise can result in better sleep and improved energy. Staying active keeps the brain healthy and sharp. Incorporate aerobic exercises such as biking, swimming, or running into your life in order to reap the benefits.
Find peace of mind
High levels of stress weigh heavily on the brain and greatly impact its function. Lowering your stress level is imperative to protecting your brain.
Discovering your own methods of reducing stress is important to find peace of mind and increase your overall well-being. This can mean:
- Reducing your workload
- Finding a spiritual practice
- Learning a new activity or hobby
Soothing exercises such as yoga or tai chi are also helpful to reduce stress.
Considerations for women
Nearly two-thirds of people living with Alzheimer’s in the U.S. are women, and two-thirds of those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s are also women. Women are greatly impacted by Alzheimer’s, on both ends of the scale. Why is this?
Experts are discovering potential answers that include stress levels and hormonal factors. Organizations such as WAM focus on informing and assisting women based on these considerations.
How to stay consistent
Just as with any health and fitness journey, the journey to brain health is continuous and lifelong. Share your knowledge and brain-health practices with friends and family to help you remain accountable and also to encourage them on their own journey.
Don’t make too many changes at once to avoid feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. Start with small changes that grow over time, and include your doctor in your journey.
When to transition to enhanced memory care
Loving communities such as The Kensington White Plains are here to support you through these difficult decisions. Our Promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own, which means ensuring their safety and quality of life in every aspect of care.