Archive for October, 2012

Exercise may outperform puzzles in preventing brain shrinkage

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, so here at AmeriCare Georgia we are doing everything we can to spread a little extra Alzheimer’s awareness to our clients, caregivers, and other aging loved ones around Georgia.

Earlier in October, Ryan Jaslow from CBS News wrote a great article on recent research that shows exercise may outperform puzzles in preventing brain shrinkage. Because brain shrinkage has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, we thought this would be a great article to start November off with.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland examined 638 Scots who were born in 1936. At 73-years-old, they were all given MRI scans to measure and record the volume of their brains. Along with MRIs, participants were asked details about their exercise habits- ranging from light household chores to heavier exercise or competitive sports- and were also asked about social or mentally-stimulating activities such as puzzles.

After three years, each participant received another MRI that showed those who engaged in more physical activity (for the past three years) experienced significantly less brain shrinkage than those who did not participate in habitual physical activity.

Additionally, the researchers could not find significant amount of benefit to those who frequently participated in mentally and socially stimulating activities on brain size throughout the three years. This study was published in the Oct. 23 issue of Neurology.

Of course, keeping your brain active by reading, writing, and completing crossword puzzles is always beneficial for overall health, but this research implies us to lean towards habitual light physical activity (even cooking and cleaning) to assist in declining chances of Alzheimer symptoms. 

In addition to this article, the Alzheimer’s Association of Georgia also puts a few common Alzheimer’s myths to rest:

Myth 1: Drinking out of aluminum cans or cooking in aluminum pots/pans can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies have failed to confirm 1960s and 1970s suspicion that everyday exposure to aluminum increased chances of developing Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Myth 2: Flu shots increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease. 

A Nov. 27, 2001, Canadian Medical Journal report by Rene Verreault, Danielle Laurin, Joan Lindsay, and Gaston De Serres suggest older adults who were vaccinated against influenza seemed to actually have a lower risk of developed Alzheimer’s. See the full report here!

Myth 3: Aspartame causes memory loss.

According to the FDA, as of May 2006, the agency had not been presented with any evidence that would lead people to believe aspartame caused Alzheimer’s. The agency says its conclusions are based on more than 100 studies. 

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October 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm Leave a comment

Save your brain!

As we all continue to age it is important to consider the lifestyle choices we make. The unfortunate reality is that constant unhealthy lifestyle choices lead to diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and brain-related health problems. These diseases are all linked to common health problems (especially in the elderly) such as stroke, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.   

Paul David Nussbaum, PhD and writer for parentgiving.com has outlined five steps for maintaining brain health to its fullest potential! Adoption of these brain-healthy lifestyle tips is a great way to set examples for children and grandchildren, and maybe even encourage an aging loved one to make subtle changes in everyday habits as well.

Socialization- This is the first critical area to think about in order to promote healthy brain lifestyles. Not only does socialization reduce the risk of dementia, it also provides a role and purpose for getting up each morning. Remaining involved in the community and keeping up with family and/or friends is a great beginning step to ensure positive brain aging.Image

Physical Activity- The human brain consumes such a high level of glucose, oxygen, and blood- it is no wonder physical activity is a key role in brain health. We have all heard it before, but do try and get your heart rate up everyday- it is truly the “central” nervous system of our bodies.

Mental Stimulation- It is important to stimulate our brains by putting down the high tech gadgets or devices every once in a while and challenge our brains to do some problem solving!

Spirituality- By making a conscious effort to engage in a slower and more reflective life, we can impact our health and brains in a positive way. Of course we all live busy lifestyles in fast-paced environments, but even taking 15 minutes out of the day could do wonders! Take notice during times where you could use a break and reward yourself with some down time- it will only result in less stress and a healthier brain.Image

Nutrition- Food has the ability to alter thought processes, mood, and behavior. With this being said, it is extremely important to think about what we feed our bodies! The brain is 60 percent fat (the fattest part of the body) and thrives on omega-3 fatty acids (good fat) and antioxidants. Fill your diet with foods such as salmon, whole grains, and fresh fruits and veggies! 

October 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm Leave a comment

Do’s & Dont’s for assisting the elderly after an illness/surgery

Properly caring for our aging loved ones as they recover from an illness or surgery is an essential part of their recovery. AmeriCare Georgia’s Director of Nursing Karen Rawls gives us some valuable advice on what to do and what not to do when this type of situation arises!  

Do’s
  • Make sure to ask healthcare professionals about the type of pre and post illness care that is recommended and to adhere to those requirements.
  • Keep a log of medications and possible reactions and call the doctor immediately if a suspected reaction occurs.
  • Keep a calendar posted in an obvious place such as the refrigerator of any scheduled physical therapy and other follow-up appointments and treatments.
  • Practice cleanliness of yourself and the patient by using good handwashing techniques as well as other infection control practices.
  • Be cognizant of privacy but also make sure that the elderly person doesn’t get lonely and may just want to spend some time with you. Provide comfort measures, which could include pet therapy, companion sitter and other appropriate social activities.
  • Watch out for signs of depression – studies have shown that depression in the elderly is a major problem.  Signs and symptoms of depression could include loss of interest in doing things, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, irritablity and unresolved tiredness.  If you suspect someone is becoming depressed then call the doctor for a full evaluation
Don’ts
  • Don’t try to lift or move a patient without using proper body mechanics, which includes protecting your back.  Also never lift an elderly person by theirwrist, arms,legs or other extremeties  but try to have two people move a person if possible for support.
  • Don’t try to reposition or move an elderly person alone – make sure that there is someone there to help you. Morning and bedtime routines that can be the most challenging part of the day.

 

October 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm Leave a comment


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