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Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Nutrition for Dementia and Alzheimer’s

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Dementia is the loss of memory, cognitive reasoning, awareness of environment, judgment, abstract thinking, or the ability to perform activities of daily living. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia that involves slowly developing symptoms that get worse over time. Dementia resulting from vitamin deficiencies, or caused by underlying disease (such as brain tumors and infections) may be reversible. Other forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, are not reversible, and are often treated with medications.

As dementia progresses, changes can occur that may affect someone’s ability to obtain adequate food and nutrients to maintain their health status. Such changes will vary depending on the type of dementia, as well as the stage of the disease. Some of these changes include:

  • Altered sense of smell and/or taste
  • Inability to recognize food or distinguish between food and non-food items
  • Poor appetite
  • Chewing difficulties (pocketing food, repetitive chewing, etc.)
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Forgetting to eat
  • Shortened attention span leading to a loss of interest in eating
  • Difficulty using eating utensils
  • Increase in pacing or walking
  • Drug side effects

The symptoms of dementia vary, and the treatment and nutrition care should be determined by these symptoms. Some techniques to consider for continued delivery of food and nutrition include:

  • Provide kind reminders to eat.
  • Provide meals in a low stress environment, minimizing noise and visual
  • distractions.
  • Develop a meal routine that can be repeated over time, to provide meals at
  • similar times, or even similar meals every day.
  • Have someone eat with the individual to provide assistance and reminders
  • on how to eat.
  • Have family join the individual at meal times to encourage eating.
  • Pay attention to other health issues, such as infections, fevers, injuries, or
  • other illnesses, as these may increase food and fluid needs.
  • Provide well-liked food and drinks to encourage eating.
  • Limit the amount of food served at one time so as not to overwhelm.

Provide finger-type foods for individuals struggling to use utensils:

  • Hamburgers
  • French fries
  • Carrot sticks

Check with a dietitian or doctor for any specific dietary needs.

Activities to Help Keep Your Brain Sharp

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If you are approaching retirement, or are already retired, you might be wondering how you will keep your thinking skills sharp. The good news is that there are several activities that will help you stay ahead of the brain game. When it comes to brain power, if you don’t use it you lose it. The following are some tips for a healthy brain at any age.

 

Eat Smart to Think Smart

Clogged arteries reduce blood flow and that means less oxygen to the brain. When the brain is low on oxygen, you may have problems thinking clearly. Consuming foods that are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol keeps blood vessels open, allowing oxygen-rich blood flow to your brain. Foods high in omega-3s like nuts and fish, as well as colorful, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables provide nourishment for a healthy brain.

 

Give Your Brain a Workout

Like the rest of your body, your brain benefits from exercise. Try reciting the alphabet backwards. Crossword puzzles, sudoku puzzles, and word searches are also excellent workouts for your brain.

 

Hydrate your Brain

Did you know that dehydration can make you feel disoriented and light-headed? Your brain needs adequate fluids to function, and your brain may be desperately in need of fluids even when you don’t feel thirsty. Try to get six to eight (8-ounce) cups of fluid each day. Healthy drinks like water and low-fat milk are good choices. If you don’t enjoy plain water, add a splash of fruit juice to your water. You can also get healthy fluids from fruits, vegetables, and soups.

 

Challenge Your Brain

Just for fun, if you are right-handed, try writing with your left hand or use your left hand to operate your computer mouse. Activities that cause you to concentrate more may help you grow new brain cells.

 

Go for a Brisk Walk

People often overlook the benefits of walking, but walking is yet another way to get your brain in gear. Your brain controls your muscles and when you walk, your whole body gets a workout. We have already seen how oxygen can help the brain. Walking is an aerobic exercise that helps deliver more oxygen to the brain.

 

Engage in Healthy Debates

Your brain was made for thinking. Being quick-witted and thinking on your feet can keep your brain ready for what comes your way. Pick a side and make your case for what you believe. You might be surprised at how your debating skills will improve.

10 Ways to Love Your Brain

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Love your brain

If you fail to properly take care of your brain, you may eventually experience problems such as memory loss and stroke. The brain needs both exercise and nourishment to maintain proper function. Try these 10 tips to help you to love your brain and keep it healthy:

  1. Focus on your diet. Healthy foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol will promote brain health because they don’t clog the arteries. Clogged arteries block proper blood flow to the brain.
  2. Stay hydrated. Failing to consume adequate fluids can cause dehydration. A dehydrated brain becomes disoriented. Water and other healthy fluids keep the brain sharp.
  3. Stay well-rested. The average amount sleep required for an adult is at least eight hours of every evening. When you don’t get enough sleep, you feel foggy and irritable. Not only does your body feel tired, but your brain can also be exhausted. As a result, you may not be able to think clearly and make important decisions.
  4. Get your exercise. Practicing adequate physical activity keeps the blood flowing to vital organs. Blood carries oxygen to the brain, helping you to think and feel more energized.
  5. Take medications as prescribed. Taking too much of a medication can negatively affect the brain. An excess amount of medication can cause symptoms like dizziness or headaches and can impair judgment.
  6. Stimulate your brain. Brain exercises, such as playing cards, working crossword puzzles and reading, keep your brain active and sharp. Try to focus on stimulating your brain every day.
  7. Limit your alcohol intake. Like too much medication, too much alcohol can cause an impairment of judgment and motor skills. Eventually, this can have negative effects on your brain.
  8. Stop smoking. Smoking causes changes in blood vessels that can impair blood flow. Quitting smoking not only promotes a healthier brain, but can also add years to your life.
  9. Stop worrying so much. Chronic stress be unhealthy for the brain. Stress relievers include walking, listening to music, watching a funny television show and getting enough rest.
  10. Spend time with others. Spending too much time alone is not good for the brain. Loneliness often leads to internal sadness and depression. Get together with friends and have some fun as much as possible!