A healthy brain is the key to Alzheimer’s disease prevention. Celebrities and health experts recently teamed up to discuss this message in depth during a virtual summit hosted by The Kensington Senior Living, Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM), and Hilarity for Charity (HFC).
In four breakout sessions centered on key information and prevention topics, experts discussed how a proper diet, good sleep, movement, and meditation can keep the brain healthy and strong as we age.
Learn more about the key takeaways from the Brain It On! event, plus the current known causes of Alzheimer’s disease, treatments, and when it might be time to move a loved one with Alzheimer’s to a supportive memory care community.
Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention: Key Lifestyle Tips from Experts
Maria Shriver, founder of WAM, and Lauren Miller Rogen, co-founder of HFC, introduced the Brain it On! event. WAM’s mission is to answer why two out of every three brains that develop Alzheimer’s belong to women, while HFC’s goal is to inspire the next generation of Alzheimer’s advocates and be leaders in brain health education and research.
Each breakout session was packed with advice and updates on protecting the brain by creating a healthier, more peaceful lifestyle.
Eating for Brain Health
Dr. Annie Fenn and Dr. Ayesha Sherzai both agree: More fiber and less sugar and processed foods are essential for brain health. In the first breakout session, the two doctors shared their philosophies on food and tips for boosting your diet.
Dr. Annie Fenn recommended the MIND diet to support brain health. The foods in this diet are high in antioxidants and healthy fats, which both nourish the brain. With this diet, consume more:
- Leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, and lettuce)
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower)
- Blueberries and strawberries
- Olive oil
- Dark chocolate
Instead of filling the snack cabinet with chips and packaged cakes and cookies, fill it with nuts and fruit for more satisfying and longer-lasting energy and nutrition.
Sleep, Exercise, and Cognitive Fitness
Dr. Jennifer Zientz introduced neuroplasticity in the second breakout session: the brain’s ability to adapt and change through experiences. Originally, experts believed that the brain was unchangeable, and we were each born with all the cells and connections we would have for our entire lives.
Now, experts know that the brain is wiring and rewiring each day as a result of our experiences. These processes are created by social connections, physical, and cognitive exercise, and boosted and protected by good sleep.
Continuously creating and engaging in exercise, new experiences, and activities will build a cognitive reserve, which will protect the brain as we age.
Meditation and Faith
Dr. Lakelyn Hogan introduced the third breakout session with a discussion on the intense stress and burdens for dementia caregivers, which ultimately can lead to burnout.
Dr. Dharma Khalsa introduced spiritual fitness, which is a relatively new concept in medicine. By practicing meditation or faith, we can develop a greater understanding of who we are. This stripping away of all the layers of stress can lead us to our true identity and best version of ourselves.
Dr. Dharma Khalsa believes having a purpose in life dramatically reduces the occurrence of Alzheimer’s, and this purpose comes from returning to ourselves through spiritual practices.
Women and Brain Health
In the fourth and final session, experts focused on leading research and considerations for women, who are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than men. The reasons for this are mainly concerning hormones and menopause.
Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton said menopause usually is seen as a reproductive function, but it actually is completely driven by the brain. During this time, the brain undergoes considerable changes, and can undergo an “energy crisis.” How we respond to this energy crisis is critical.
The experts recommended hormone therapy or participating in local research studies to support your brain during menopause, as research is still underway for the best options for women. However, Dr. Jessica Caldwell advised that exercise and meditation are essential for brain health as women move through menopause.
What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease?
Experts do not yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s, but they believe it is a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors paired with age-related brain changes. It also appears to be highly individual.
Aging doesn’t cause Alzheimer’s, but our risk increases as we age. During the aging process, certain parts of our brain appear to shrink, energy production in the cells breaks down, and other inflammation and vascular damage occur.
Having a family history of Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean you will get it too, but other genetic risk factors may contribute to your risk. Due to all the factors at play, experts are confident, and research is promising, that healthy lifestyle changes contribute to brain health and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.
Current Treatments for Alzheimer’s
If you suspect a loved one has Alzheimer’s, take them to the doctor. The doctor will rule out other illnesses with similar symptoms and perform tests to assess their memory and thinking skills.
Current treatments for Alzheimer’s include medications to treat cognitive symptoms and slow the progression of symptoms, but many experts are turning to Alzheimer’s disease prevention, alternative medicine, and lifestyle changes.
No matter the stage of the disease, adapting yourself and your surroundings for your loved one is an essential part of any treatment plan. Establishing a routine and maintaining a life full of activity and comfort will preserve the quality of life for as long as possible.
How a Memory Care Community Can Support Your Loved One
Despite your best efforts, there may come a time when caregiving becomes too much, and you and your family want to ensure your loved one receives constant, professional care and attention.
The Kensington White Plains is here to support those families. Our Promise, first and foremost, is to love and care for your family as we do our own. We infuse Our Promise into every aspect of care, providing your loved one with life enrichment, comfort, and cozy, luxurious surroundings.
To provide this advanced care, our memory care community consists of two neighborhoods for the proper level of care. Connections is for those in the early to middle stages of dementia, while Haven is for those in the middle to late stages.
We also provide enhanced care and support for those with:
Call us today to learn more about our services, our safety measures, and all the ways we can support your loved one.