Food and Dementia: Does Diet Reduce the Risk?

While it’s normal to experience occasional forgetfulness as we age, like misplacing our glasses or missing an appointment, memory loss is not a normal part of aging. However, it’s a condition that many older adults experience. In fact, nearly 5 million Americans, aged 65 and older, have been diagnosed with a form of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Dementia is an overall term used to describe a wide range of medical conditions caused by abnormal brain changes.” Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, accounts for nearly 60-80% of all dementia cases.

While Alzheimer’s and dementia can show up differently in each person, many have problems with short-term memory, remembering appointments and trouble with comprehension, especially when it comes to finances. While we can’t completely eliminate our risk of developing dementia, there are simple things we can do to decrease it. In fact, it can be as simple as eating a healthy diet.

Diet and its Effect on Dementia

It’s been proven that diet can have a profound impact on our overall health, especially as we age. While research is somewhat limited, there are three diets that have been linked to decreasing the risk of dementia.

The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH)

According to the Cleveland Clinic, researchers traditionally thought a high sodium diet resulted in high blood pressure. However, sodium can have a different effect on different people. This prompted further research to study how different diets can impact blood pressure. The DASH diet, which is heavily focused on fruits and vegetables, was found to lower blood pressure significantly. Because heart disease is a common risk factor for dementia, the DASH diet has been encouraged by many researchers as a way to decrease that risk. Those who follow the DASH diet aim to reduce their blood pressure by:

• Eating foods low in fat and cholesterol
• Eating mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts
• Decreasing the amount of red meats, sweets and sugar-based beverages

The Mediterranean Diet

Alzheimer’s disease is caused by abnormal build-up of proteins around our brain cells. The Mediterranean Diet, which includes high levels of antioxidants, can actually protect our brain cells from damage, while also reducing brain inflammation and lowering cholesterol. This diet primarily focuses on fruit, healthy fats, herbs, fish and poultry, while limiting consumption of butter, red meat and salt.

The MIND Diet

This diet is specifically designed to prevent dementia in older adults. The Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet were combined to create Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, or MIND. A study published by Rush University Medical Center showed that, “the MIND diet lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53% in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously and by 35% in those who followed it moderately well.” To create the MIND diet, researchers combined elements of both diets and added emphasis on foods that were shown to benefit brain health.

Foods to Eat on the MIND Diet

According to the Mayo Clinic, researchers found that older adults, “whose diets most closely resembled the pattern laid out in the MIND diet had brains as sharp as people 7.5 years younger.” While the MIND diet closely resembles foods found in the DASH and Mediterranean diets, it focuses strictly on foods closely linked to dementia prevention. According to Healthline Magazine, these are the main food types eaten when following the MIND diet:

• Green leafy vegetables including kale, spinach and greens are packed with vitamins A and C and other nutrients. Researchers have suggested that consuming six servings or more provide the greatest benefits.

• All other vegetables are packed with nutrients and fiber that are good for overall health. These are recommended in addition to green leafy vegetables.

• Berries- When creating the MIND diet, researchers found that berries in particular are excellent for improving cognitive function and protecting the brain. Researchers suggest eating berries at least twice a week.

• Nuts contain healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants and can even lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. The MIND diet suggests consuming five servings of nuts per week.

• Olive Oil is a recommended alternative for butter. Studies have shown that olive oil can protect against cognitive decline.

• Whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, bread and quinoa should be consumed three times a day when following the MIND diet.

• Fish such as tuna, salmon and trout are high in omega-3 fatty acids and can help protect brain function. Unlike the Mediterranean diet, the MIND diet suggests consuming fish once a week.

• Beans are high in fiber and protein, but low in fat and calories. Beans can help you feel full and provide you with nutrients while also keeping your brain sharp.

• Poultry such as chicken and turkey are recommended twice a week.

• Wine- Research shows that red wine can help protect against Alzheimer’s. However, the MIND diet recommends consuming no more than one glass per day.

Healthy Eating Tips for Dementia Prevention

Making drastic changes to your diet can be difficult. If the MIND diet isn’t for you, there are still plenty of ways to use your diet to reduce your risk of dementia. There are certain foods to help prevent dementia that you can consume to help keep your mind healthy. You might consider adopting some of these simple habits to protect your brain without following a strict food plan:

Cut down on sugar
Food and beverages that contain sugar such as soda and refined carbs, can cause our blood sugar levels to rise rapidly, which can inflame the brain. Before eating packaged foods, be sure to read the nutrition label and check for added sugar.

Consume omega 3 fats
Omega 3 fats contain docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, which is thought to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Omega 3 fats are found in salmon, tuna, trout and mackerel. If you prefer not to eat fish, you can supplement with fish oil.

Increase fruits and vegetables
Both fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants and can prevent inflammation. While berries are directly linked to brain health, all fruits and vegetables help to protect your body from illness.

Cook at home
When we prepare our own meals, we have control over what ingredients we are using and what we are consuming. While eating at restaurants and picking up take-out can be delicious and convenient, there might be hidden sugar and unhealthy fats.

Drink in moderation
While one glass of wine per day is linked to brain health, overdrinking can raise the risk of memory related diseases.

Preventing Dementia at Maplewood Senior Living

Health is a top priority at Maplewood Senior Living . That’s why each community offers a wide variety of meal and food options to keep our residents physically and mentally healthy. If you’d like to learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us here.

Navigating Travel with Dementia or Alzheimer’s

Dementia is used to describe a group of medical conditions related to memory loss. While long-term memory loss isn’t a normal part of aging, there are many older adults living with various types of dementia. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 5.8 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. However, with summer approaching, Alzheimer’s and dementia don’t have to stop you from exploring new places or visiting family and friends. In fact, many people living with these diseases continue to travel and even do so alone in certain circumstances. While travel has been severely curtained in recent months throughout the country, you may need to travel for unforseen circumstances. Even a trip to the store, or to visit family may need some preparation and of course, if you need to travel to a new living situation you may need to fly or take a long car trip.  If you are planning to travel with a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, the best way to  have a safe and enjoyable trip is to be prepared.

Preparing for Your Trip

According to the National Institute on Aging, as dementia progresses, it can impact our, “behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with daily life and normal activities.” Depending on the stage of dementia, traveling will pose different challenges. Your loved one’s ability to communicate, behavioral patterns and mood changes can all be affected by a sudden change in routine or venturing into unfamiliar environments. As you prepare each aspect of your trip, from accommodations to transportation, it’s important to think about your loved one’s needs and abilities.

Evaluating your transportation options

Depending on the nature of your travel, you will have to decide how to get to your destination. When traveling with someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, simplicity is key. You might consider minimizing your travel time by taking fewer stops or avoiding airport layovers. Whether you’re traveling by air or by car, there are a few important elements to keep in mind as you prepare your itinerary:

Traveling by Air
The Dementia.org team surveyed caregivers and those diagnosed with dementia to explore their experiences when traveling by air. Those who participated were asked to describe the challenges and surprises they encountered throughout their travels. Here is what they found:

Traveling through airports can be challenging for all people, especially for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As the disease progresses, following instructions can become increasingly difficult.
Nearly half of the participants encountered problems with checking in, bag screening, finding the boarding gate and restrooms, hearing announcements and reading information on signboards.

Navigating the security checkpoint was exceptionally difficult for those with severe cognitive impairments, specifically those in the later stages of the disease. While it’s helpful for the person with dementia to travel with a caregiver, oftentimes caregivers are unable to help with security checkpoints such as individual screenings.

All of the participants noted that while there were challenges, traveling by air was possible if both the caregiver and loved one were prepared. The following tips helped ease the traveling process for participants in the study:

• Arriving to the airport early to leave time for unexpected challenges
• Notifying airport staff that you are traveling with a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease before your travel date and at the time of arrival
• Minimizing stressors including hand-held luggage
• Going through security checkpoints behind your companion. If you enter through security in front of your loved one, you won’t be permitted to return to them.
• Seek out quiet spaces of the airport including unused gates or sitting areas. These can be helpful in times of stress and chaos.
• Bring noise canceling headphones to help minimize distractions and agitations.

Traveling by Car
It’s recommended to travel by car when traveling with someone with dementia, especially if your destination can be reached within one travel day. Traveling by car gives the caregiver and loved one more control over their journey. Rest stops, food options and overall environment can mostly be controlled.

If you are in the midst of planning a road trip, remember to plan out your rest stops. Searching for a rest stop can be stressful during an urgent situation. Knowing where you will stop and which rest sites are close by will give you a better sense of control. It can also be helpful to consider how long your traveling day will take you, factoring in your loved one’s behavior and mood.

If your loved one is feeling overwhelmed or agitated, you might consider moving on to your safety plan. As you create your safety plan, make sure to consider where you might stop if something comes up or who you will need to contact in the case of an emergency.

Travel Considerations to Keep in Mind

In general, traveling can be stressful for all people with various ability levels. Once you’ve decided to travel, there are a few simple things you can do lessen the stress and anxiety surrounding the trip:

Start your trip prepared- You want to start preparing and packing for your trip a week or so before the travel date. As you begin packing, make sure to take extra clothing and personal care items with you in the case of an emergency. Get plenty of sleep the night before and bring foods that your loved one enjoys and will eat without hesitation. Lastly, leave yourself plenty of time to get ready in the morning before beginning your road trip or heading to the airport.

Write and share your itinerary- Before your trip, write down all of your travel plans, including hotels, and even rest stops you plan to visit. This itinerary should be shared with family and friends who will be available to assist you if needed.

Take important documents with you- In the case of an emergency, you will need to access important documents. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it is suggested to take the following essential documents with you while traveling:
• Doctor’s name and contact information
• A list of medications and dosages
• Phone numbers of local police, hospitals and poison control
• Copies of all legal papers including a living will, power of attorney and proof of guardianship
• Name and contact information of emergency contacts
• Insurance cards and information

Be alert to wandering- If your loved one is at risk of wandering, make sure they are wearing an ID bracelet or write their name and your contact information in their clothing.

Dealing with an emergency- If your loved one is prone to outbreaks and aggression, make sure to pay attention to their warning signs. If you are driving when an outbreak takes place, pull over immediately. If you need to calm down someone with dementia, there are proven techniques to help you.

Embracing Summertime Travel at Maplewood Senior Living

Travel doesn’t always have to be a source of tension for you or your loved one. Our staff at Maplewood Senior Living are seasoned professionals who can help you prepare for your trip and provide you with travel tips and tricks. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

Recognizing the Warning Signs of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

We all know that aging can cause wrinkles, gray hair and achy joints. However, as we age our bodies and minds undergo many physiological changes that aren’t as obvious. As our brains age, their neurological makeup also changes, which can cause forgetfulness and longer memory recall. While this is a normal part of aging, memory-loss is not. However, many older adults suffer from long-term memory loss in their later years. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, 50 million people have dementia, with 10 million new diagnoses each year. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, contributing to 60-70% of all dementia cases.

Differences between Alzheimer’s and Dementia

While they are commonly interchanged, dementia and Alzheimer’s are not the same diseases. Unlike Alzheimer’s, which is a specific long-term memory disease, dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. While many people are familiar with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, most are unfamiliar with the other various types. Of the 400 types of dementia, here are the most common aside from Alzheimer’s disease:

Vascular Dementia- This type of dementia can be caused when the vessels that supply blood to our brains get damaged. While there are far fewer cases of vascular dementia, it is the second most common type. Many diagnosed with this disease often notice challenges with problem-solving, focus and organization.

Lewy Body Dementia- Abnormal clumps of protein, called Lewy bodies, are found in the brains of people with certain diseases such as Lewy body dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Those with Lewy body dementia might suffer from visual hallucinations, acting out and have trouble with focusing.

Frontotemporal Dementia- The frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are associated with our personality, behavior and language. When the nerve cells and their connections to the brain begin to degenerate, it’s not uncommon for behavior, personality, thinking and judgement to begin to change. While there are different types of frontotemporal dementia, all of them are associated with nerve breakdown in the brain.

Mixed Dementia- It’s possible for adults to have many different types of dementia at one time. Researchers are performing autopsy studies to learn more about this condition and how it might be properly treated in the future.

Alzheimer’s disease refers to abnormal protein deposits that form in the brain causing plaques and tangles. These protein fragments and twisted fibers clog and damage the brain’s nerves, altering the chemical makeup of the brain. As the disease worsens, connections between brain cells can be completely lost, in addition to physical brain shrinkage. According to the National Institute of Health, most adults begin experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in their mid-60s.

Symptoms and Early Warning Signs

While the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can differ, they also have commonalities. Here are a few of the most common warning signs seen in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients according to the Alzheimer’s Association and Healthline Magazine.

• Changes in Memory- Increasing difficulty with memory can be an early symptom of both dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Most changes will involve short-term memory, such as forgetting where they placed an item, what they were going to do, or asking the same questions over and over again.

• Difficulty with Word Recall- Those with early symptoms might notice an increased difficulty in communicating their thoughts or needs. For most people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, vocabulary recall and organizing thoughts can get increasingly difficult as the diseases progress.

• Challenges in Problem Solving- Working with numbers or developing a plan can also pose quite a challenge. Some people living with dementia have trouble with things like following a recipe and keeping track of monthly bills.

• Changes in Mood and Behavior- While this symptom is certainly hard to recognize in yourself, it can be one of the first warning signs you notice in others. Depression and changes in personality, such as shifting from shy to outgoing, can also be related to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

• Confusion- In general, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can be confusing experiences for those who have been diagnosed. Someone in the early stages of these diseases might become confused when they realize their memory has changed, making it difficult to interact and communicate with others.

• Repetition-Because Alzheimer’s disease and dementia affect memory, those who are living with it might find themselves repeating tasks and asking the same questions or telling the same stories.

• Struggle with Change- For those in the early stages, accepting the illness can be extremely difficult. It’s normal for those who have been diagnosed to experience periods of denial, making it difficult to adapt to change.

Causes and Risk Factors of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Because there are so many different types of dementia, it is difficult to identify the exact cause. Underlying health issues, environment and family history can impact a person’s potential for developing dementia. Other disorders, such as Huntington’s disease, traumatic brain injury and Parkinson’s disease, are also linked to dementia. This means the risk of developing dementia is significantly increased when one of these disorders has already developed.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Scientists believe that for most people, Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that affect the brain over time.” Like dementia, the exact cause of Alzheimer’s cannot be identified, however there are certain risk factors that can make an individual more susceptible to the disease.
Some factors like family history can increase the risk of developing the disease, especially if a first-degree relative has been diagnosed. Those with Down syndrome often develop Alzheimer’s disease, which is most likely related to having three copies of chromosome 21. Environmental factors such as living a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and poorly controlled diabetes can all increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Treatment

Taking the step to get checked out by your doctor can be incredibly difficult. However, there are many treatment options available for those with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. While there isn’t a treatment that can reverse the disease, there are medications that can help lessen the symptoms. Oftentimes, an early diagnosis gives individuals the opportunity to participate in clinical trials, which ultimately help researchers learn more about the disease.

Living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia at Maplewood Senior Living

Our communities at Maplewood Senior Living are committed to providing a comfortable environment for individuals living through each stage of their dementia. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.

The Stress-Reducing Benefits of Aromatherapy

As we continue to face uncertain times across our nation, many people are looking for ways to cope with stress and anxiety and reduce their side effects. Long-term stress can have a number of negative effects on the body, both physically and mentally. In fact, according to The Mayo Clinic, long-term stress can lead to anxiety, irritability, anger, headaches, sleeping problems, digestive issues and chest pain. Among the traditional remedies for combating stress, such as exercising, counseling and eating a healthy diet, many individuals are using other holistic approaches like aromatherapy.

A Brief History of Aromatherapy

According to Healthline Magazine, aromatherapy uses natural plant extracts to treat common health issues and promote overall well being. The practice of aromatherapy uses authentic essential oils in various ways to strengthen the healing process, while also building the immune system.

While aromatherapy is new to some, the practice has a long history dating all the way back to 100 AD. According to the Alliance of International Aromatherapists, many researchers credit the Persians who used distilled essential oils in their healing practices in the 10th century. The history of aromatherapy is also found in the Egyptian culture where resins, balms and fragrant oils were used by priests for religious ceremonies, offerings and embalming. In this same time period, aromatic oils were being used in ayurvedic practices in China and India.

By the 19th century, just as German and French physicians were recognizing the potential of using essential oils in treating diseases, many medical doctors were establishing themselves on the use of chemical drugs as an effective treatment for their patients.

However, as modern medicine continues to evolve today, many are going back to aromatherapy to reap its many benefits. Aromatherapy is known for both its psychological and physical benefits. Depending on the essential oil, aromatherapy can help improve mood, promote relaxation and reduce stress. In addition, this practice can stimulate the immune system, ease muscle tension and boost circulation.

When to Use Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is commonly used to treat a wide variety of mental and physical problems from stress and anxiety, to headaches and digestive issues. The essential oils used in this practice trigger messages to be sent to your brain’s limbic system, which controls your emotions, memory and how we learn. When we use aromatherapy, we stimulate the limbic system and are able to communicate our needs with our brain.

Christine Marnelakis, MOT, CDP, at Maplewood at Newtown told us, “we use aromatherapy scents often. To help residents awaken and engage, a citrus scent is the best. For meditation, where it is beneficial to be as relaxed as possible, lavender is very good for calming. We also do one on one programs with family members. The scent of lemon can help residents reminisce about hot summer days drinking lemonade or the scent of cinnamon reminds them of holiday baking.”

While aromatherapy is used to treat a variety of conditions, here are some of the most common:

Stress- When we experience stress, our bodies can experience it too. Long-term stress can cause a wide variety of health problems if it goes unaddressed. Lavender, in its oil form, is clinically proven to reduce stress when used properly. This essential oil is perfect to use in times of stress and uncertainty, because it calms the nervous system, lowers blood pressure and helps the body feel relaxed.

Anxiety– It’s not uncommon for people to experience anxiety in times of uncertainty. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, there are nearly 40 million American adults who suffer from anxiety. Studies have found that those who use aromatherapy to address their anxiety symptoms have experienced less pain and depression when compared to those who have not.

Insomnia– Quality sleep is essential to brain function and memory, and also lowers our risk of chronic diseases. Studies such as this one published by The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found that participants who were given essential oils were able to fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer than those who were given a placebo.

Dementia– Those who have been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s might experience occasional to frequent bouts of irritability and frustration. Many dementia patients have found that using aromatherapy helps relieve some of these symptoms.

Chronic Pain– When coupled with a massage, aromatherapy can provide relief to those who experience chronic pain, especially when the pain is mostly muscle-related.

How to Use Aromatherapy at Home

If you’re unable to visit a certified aromatherapist, that doesn’t have to stop you from reaping the benefits of its practice in the comfort of your own home. Here are a few ways you can adopt aromatherapy into your daily routine. As always, if you are new to using essential oils, make sure to contact your healthcare provider before doing so.

Add to Your Bath Water– Many people find comfort in soaking in a warm bath, especially when experiencing stressful situations. When essential oils are added to bath water, it can enhance the experience and help you relax and unwind.

Use With Steam– Essential oils can help relieve congestion and sinus blockage when they are coupled with steam. Add a few drops of essential oils into hot water and inhale the relaxing scent.

Spray On Fabrics- Lavender is commonly used to help relieve stress and also promotes quality sleep. You might consider diluting a few drops of this essential oil with water in a bottle and spray it onto your pillow cases or bath towels.

Essential Oils and Their Purposes

There are hundreds of essential oils, however some can be toxic, so it’s important to do your research before using them. According to Medical News Today, here are the most commonly used essential oils and what they are used to treat:

• Eucalyptus is often combined with peppermint to help alleviate cold and flu symptoms. However, many people are allergic to eucalyptus, so consult your healthcare provider before using.

• Lavender can be used to relieve many different ailments including stress, poor sleep, headaches and migraines.

• Black Pepper, used in its essential oil form, is commonly used to help promote circulation, reduce pain and bruises and improve flexibility.

• Lemon should be used when experiencing depressive symptoms since it is known to improve mood, while helping reduce any stress-related symptoms.

• Thyme can also help reduce stress-related symptoms along with fatigue and nervousness.

• Rosemary can help boost memory, while supporting circulation and the nervous system.

Tips for Using

If you’re using aromatherapy for the first time, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns. While aromatherapy is quite simple in practice, there are a few things first-time users should be aware of:

• Always remember to use certified 100% essential oils and avoid synthetics.
• When applying directly onto your body, always dilute the oil or use a carrier, such as lotion.
• You might consider testing a small patch of skin when using an oil for the first time to check for any sensitivity.

Staying Stress-Free at Maplewood Senior Living

We know that these are hard times for everyone. Our staff members and residents at Maplewood Senior Living Communities have been working together to remain positive and find constructive ways of coping with stress. If you’d like to book a virtual tour to see our facilities or learn more about our offerings, please contact us!

Dementia Caregiving during COVID-19

Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, nursing homes across the nation have put policies in place to protect their residents and staff members. As residents in nursing homes and senior living communities continue to practice social-distancing by remaining mostly in their homes, caregivers have been presented with unique challenges.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, there are nearly 34.2 million caregivers who provide unpaid care to older adults in the United States. Of those caregivers, 15.7 million provide support to a family member who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Due to COVID-19, many of these caregivers have been unable to access traditional resources, such as respite care or relying on other family members to help carry the responsibility.

Signs of Caregiver Stress

Even without the stress of COVID-19, caregiving is emotionally and physically challenging. Whether you’re caring for a spouse or family member, it’s not uncommon to experience stress, especially as your normal routines and access to resources have changed. While we all experience stress and anxiety in different ways, these are the most common signs:

Poor Sleep- When people experience stress, one of the most common indicators is a change in sleeping patterns and poor-quality sleep. Most adults function best with six to eight hours of sleep per night.

Irritability- When we feel stressed in addition to not sleeping well, it’s common to feel irritable. You might notice yourself saying things you might not normally say or having less patience than normal.

Depression- Long-term stress can cause you to experience depressive symptoms such as constant sadness, feeling hopeless and withdrawing from activities that usually give you happiness.

Loss of Concentration- When the stress of caregiving becomes too much, it can be hard to concentrate on anything at all.

Health Problems- Stress can take a toll on our immune systems, especially when we experience stress long-term. You might be more susceptible to the common cold or flu when under tremendous stress.

How to Combat Caregiver Stress

Caregiving can be extremely demanding, so it’s not uncommon for caregivers to experience periods of stress and burnout. However, this doesn’t mean caregivers have to live this way. In fact, according to Healthline Magazine, there are a variety of simple ways to combat stress.

Self-care is the most important thing caregivers can do to combat feelings of burnout, especially during these times of self-quarantine. Because the quarantine doesn’t have a certain end-date, it’s crucial to keep checking in with yourself and how you’re feeling. Pay attention to your stress levels and acknowledge when you begin to experience them more often. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and make sure to save time in your daily routine for something you enjoy.

One of the best things you can do for yourself while caregiving in quarantine is stay connected with your support team. This might be a friend, a group of caregivers, or a family member that you can talk to regularly. With these times being so unpredictable, it might help to regularly schedule your call.

Tips for Dementia Caregivers during COVID-19

Caregiving during emergency situations, such as the current coronavirus pandemic, may require an emergency plan. The Alzheimer’s Association has gathered resources and provided a number of ways for caregivers to successfully support their loved one even through these hard times.

Focus on Preventing Illnesses

Caring for a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s is already challenging, so keeping a normal routine despite these circumstances is important. You might consider showing your loved one the essentials of handwashing and lead by example. Handwashing schedules and friendly reminders in the restroom and near sinks might help prompt your loved one to wash more frequently. If you’re exposed to other people, remember to wear a mask and gently remind your loved one to do the same.

In the case of an illness or emergency, it’s important to be prepared with a medical care plan. People dealing with dementia or Alzheimer’s might experience changes in condition or react unexpectedly in emergency situations, creating a new plan that is conducive to COVID-19 parameters will help you feel prepared in unanticipated medical situations. You might consider addressing these points in your care plan:
• Contact your healthcare provider to learn about their new procedures regarding routine and emergency visits
• Ask your healthcare provider if telehealth visits are available if chronic care situations should arise
• Ask your provider to help you navigate emergency situations if one should ever present itself. What is the proper protocol?

Help Keep Families and Friends Connected

Self-isolation can be harmful to those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Caregivers, especially those who aren’t related to their loved one, should make an effort to keep the individual connected to their family. If your loved one is used to connecting with certain people on a regular basis, you might consider scheduling consistent phone calls, video chats or exchange emails with family and friends. While social distancing limits physical connection, it’s important to find ways your loved one can stay emotionally connected to those they care about.

Plan Low-Risk Outings

For Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, maintaining a routine can make the difference between a good day and a bad one. If your loved one is used to going outside or running errands with you, low-risk outings might be a good alternative to your regular outings. Walking outside, visiting a park or even going for a drive is a great way to make the day feel exciting and productive. However, if you do decide to go out, make sure to abide by social distancing guidelines when around others who don’t live in your home.

Observe and Respond to Behavioral Patterns

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, those who are living with dementia often rely on behavior as a way to communicate non-verbally. These behaviors can be expressed through screaming, striking-out or becoming emotional. Caregivers must rely on these behaviors as a form of communication.

As routines change, you may notice your loved one relying on non-verbal communication more than usual. If you’re unsure what’s being communicated, it can be helpful to rule out root causes of the behavior such as, hunger, pain, loneliness, overstimulation, fear or frustration.

The Alzheimer’s Association has provided a list of strategies to help mitigate the behavior and identify root cause (you can find the entire list here):
• Offer a favorite food
• Look at photographs together
• Read a book or magazine
• Exercise
• Create a peaceful environment
• Provide tasks
• Connect with friends and family

Get the Care You Need at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we prioritize the health and safety of all our residents in every community. That’s why we’re focused on providing additional care and support to our caregivers during this time. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a virtual tour, please contact us.

You’ve Received an Alzheimer’s or Dementia Diagnosis—Now What?

According to the World Health Organization , dementia is a condition that causes continuous problems with memory functions like thinking, remembering, and changes in behavior. While everyone experiences forgetfulness on occasion, people diagnosed or living with Alzheimer’s or dementia experience these changes more often.

As time goes on, these changes in memory and behavior can get worse. While forgetfulness can be common amongst older adults, dementia is not a normal part of aging. However, there are nearly 10 million new dementia cases each year, with Alzheimer’s disease making up nearly 70% of all diagnoses. While each individual’s case is different, after you’ve been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you might be thinking…now what?

You don’t have to wonder about that question alone. In this post, we’ll go through how you can cope with an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis.

Coping with an Alzheimer’s or Dementia Diagnosis

For some adults, getting a diagnosis can be a long process. Noticing symptoms, scheduling appointments and tests can be an emotional process. While each person is different, once you finally receive a diagnosis, it’s not uncommon to experience a wide range of emotions, or even to feel numb. You might be wondering what living with Alzheimer’s or dementia is going to be like.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, here are a few of the most common emotions people with a dementia diagnosis have experienced:

• Anger- A dementia diagnosis can change the plans you had for your future. It’s natural to feel angry after a diagnosis, especially when you realize the course of the disease cannot be controlled. But there is still hope for a fulfilling life.
• A Sense of Loss- Realizing the direction of your life is not what you had anticipated can cause you to grieve over the plans you have lost.
• Denial- It might take some time to process the diagnosis. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed but it’s important to give yourself time to adjust.
• Relief- A diagnosis can validate concerns you about any symptoms you have been experiencing. You might feel relieved to know the changes you experienced were due to an illness.
• Isolation- Your diagnosis might make you feel isolated and different from those around you. While this feeling is expected, it’s important to know that you are not alone.

Accepting an Alzheimer’s or Dementia Diagnosis

Processing your diagnosis can take some time. However, as you accept your diagnosis, you might find new ways to move forward while cultivating a fulfilling future for yourself and loved ones.

It’s important to find ways to take care of yourself both emotionally and physically. Journaling is a great way to identify how you’re feeling, while finding new ways to express yourself. Many communities have support groups that can make it easier for you to cope with an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis.

This can be a wonderful opportunity to build a support system to help you along your own dementia journey. While you work through your own emotions, you might be thinking about sharing the news of your diagnosis with family and friends.

Sharing Your Dementia Diagnosis with Family and Friends

It’s completely normal to be hesitant about sharing your diagnosis with your loved ones. But part of living with Alzheimer’s or dementia means sharing your story with your loved ones. However, as the disease progresses, it’s important to have support systems in place before you even need it.

Telling your family and friends will allow you to build your support system early on and will enable you to face challenges more easily. Remember, you don’t have to tell everyone at one time. You have the ability to choose who you want to tell and how to tell them. Here are a few tips to help you share the news when you’re ready:

• Think about who you want to share your diagnosis with first: You might choose to tell those who you feel closest to or who you spend the most time with. Part of this includes thinking about who you want to be supported by as the disease progresses.
• Go slowly: Sharing your diagnosis can be emotional. You aren’t obligated to talk about everything in one sitting. This can happen over time.
• Take educational brochures with you to begin your conversation: This can be a great way to learn about the disease with those that will be supporting you.
• Let people support you but tell them how you want to be supported: If you want to be supported in certain ways, like help with doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, or cooking meals, it’s important to express this to your friends and family.

Living with an Alzheimer’s or Dementia Diagnosis

Once you receive a diagnosis, it’s important to think about a plan for your future. While the diagnosis can be overwhelming at first, eventually you will find a new normal. After all, there are plenty of people who live with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Here are a few ways you can start planning:

Get regular medical care

You might feel like you don’t have control over your disease, but you do have control over your health. It’s important to make regularly scheduled appointments with your primary care doctor or specialist like a neurologist or psychiatrist. Some adults living with dementia find changes in their sleep patterns.

If you experience these kinds of changes, there are non-drug treatments and medications available that will help improve your sleep. In addition, you might consider asking your doctor about clinical trials. Studying dementia through trials will help develop future treatments.

Plan or hire support

As your disease progresses, you might find it difficult to keep up with your day-to-day needs. You might consider hiring a caregiver to help you with housekeeping, medications, meals, and daily chores. If you need help finding a caregiver, you can contact your local Alzheimer’s Association for help with these services.

If you haven’t already, it might be helpful to make arrangements for all bills to be paid automatically. This will eliminate any chance of falling behind on your bills. Also, you might consider setting up direct deposit for any checks that you receive consistently.

Plan for your future

Before your disease progresses, it’s crucial to make a financial plan for your future, especially if you live alone. This might include anything from taking inventory of your existing legal documents to making legal plans for your finances and property.

You might consider naming another person to make decisions on your behalf when you no longer can through a power of attorney. You can also put your wishes for medical treatment in a living will. In addition, it’s important you make estate plans through a standard will or living trust.

Find Expert Memory Care Near You

At Maplewood Senior Living, the health of our residents is our number one priority. That’s why we offer regularly scheduled support groups and activities for our residents living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. To learn more about our memory care near you, or to schedule a tour of our facilities, please contact us.

Coping With the Loss of a Parent From Long-Term Memory Loss

Learn techniques for coping with the loss of a parent from long-term memory loss.

As your parents age, it’s not uncommon for them to experience forgetfulness, like momentarily misplacing keys or having trouble remembering the date of their next hair appointment. However, some older adults might experience a more severe type of memory loss, which is not a normal part of aging. In fact, nearly 10 to 20 percent of older adults aged 65 and older have been diagnosed with some kind of mild cognitive impairment, while 10 percent are diagnosed with long-term memory loss, such as Alzheimer’s. While experiencing longer memory recall can be a normal part of aging, those who suffer from long-term memory loss often lose the ability to recall memories completely.

Signs and Symptoms of Long-Term Memory Loss

The most obvious warning sign of long-term memory loss is when a senior is unable to recall memories from childhood or early adult years. For example, if your loved one is unable to remember where they grew up or the name of their high school or college, it’s important to tell a healthcare provider as soon as you’re able. In addition, here are a few common signs of long-term memory loss to look out for:
• Mixing up words or experiencing difficulty in word recall or describing situations.
• Getting confused or disoriented in highly frequented and familiar places, such as the grocery store or a relative’s house.
• Taking a much longer time to complete basic daily tasks like bathing, cooking, or paying the bills.
• Drastic and sudden changes in behavior and mood. This can often look like agitation, anger, and irritability.

What to Expect After a Long-Term Memory Loss Diagnosis

It’s difficult to watch our parents age, especially when they’ve been diagnosed with a cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s. However, it can help reduce stress and agitation when we know what we can expect and how to better care for our parents and ourselves. Here are a few challenges you might face as your parent experiences memory loss.

Daily Challenges- As long-term memory loss progresses, completing daily tasks can become more difficult. This means eating, dressing, and grooming on their own might become challenging and eventually, they might require assistance. If your parent drives, it’s important to monitor their cognitive decline with their doctor and find the right time to discuss other means of getting around.

Safety Risks- Many adults who experience long-term memory loss will also become wander risks. It’s important to make sure support systems, like regular calls and check-ins, are put in place just in case this happens to your parent. In addition, some home appliances can also become dangerous. Forgetting to turn kitchen appliances off, forgetting how to use utensils, or losing balance are not uncommon challenges.

Changes in Communication- As speech delays and word recall worsen, communicating with your parent might become difficult. You might notice your parent struggling to recall vocabulary, repeating himself or herself often, using illogical sentences, or speaking less frequently.

Emotional Challenges- Many older adults are aware of their cognitive decline, especially at the beginning of diagnosis. This can come with a lot of shame and embarrassment, especially when they have to be reminded of certain memories, words, or facts.

How to Care for a Parent with Long-Term Memory Loss

Witnessing a parent suffer from long-term memory loss can be difficult for the whole family, especially for adult children. Knowing how to care for your parent might become a new challenge after a long-term memory loss diagnosis. Here are some things to consider as you decide what kind of care will be the most helpful for your parent.

Memory care communities

As the disease progresses, your parent might ultimately benefit from 24-hour, long-term care. Memory care communities are designed to provide support and care for older adults suffering from memory-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Memory care is often available as a separate unit in continuing care retirement communities, like Maplewood.

Establishing a new routine

Your parent’s daily life will change as their cognitive function continues to decline. It’s important to establish a regular routine to help decrease confusion and disorientation, while also avoiding too much stimulation and variety. This might mean choosing one or two regular activities for each day, such as crafting or a walk.

Ask for help

Caring for a parent with long-term memory loss can seem like a daunting task. However, it’s important to take inventory of your resources and use them when necessary. Ask for help, consider hiring a caretaker, or see what resources are available in your community.

Coping with Loss of a Parent or Loved One

Many adult children of parents suffering from long-term memory loss experience grief even before the death of their parent. As the disease progresses, it’s normal for adult children to grieve the loss of the parent they knew for their entire lives. Many family members have to learn how to relate to and communicate with their loved one in new ways. Here are a few tips to consider as you continue to nurture a new relationship with your parent.

• Go with the flow- Long-term memory loss can often affect a person’s mood, making each day slightly unpredictable. It’s important to let go of plans and expectations and simply go with the flow. Know that just because you’ve made plans, it might not go exactly how you imagined.

• Set boundaries- Long-term memory loss can affect an entire family, not just the person with the diagnosis. If you are a family member or an adult child, it’s important to take care of yourself by setting boundaries. For example, if your parent becomes agitated during your visit, it’s okay to leave and reschedule for a different time.

• Rethink your responses- As the disease progresses, you might be tempted to encourage your parent to remember something from their past. Or, you might feel upset if they can’t remember your name or who you are. In these moments, it’s best to take a breath and think about how you want to respond, even when in difficult situations.

Finding Support with Long-Term Memory Loss at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we know how difficult coping with the loss of a parent from long-term memory loss can be. That’s why our communities offer high-quality memory care specifically designed to support both the resident and their family members. If you’re interested in learning more about our memory care offerings, please contact us. We’d be happy to give you a tour of our community and discuss your needs.

A Complete Guide for Managing Holiday Stress

Explore this complete guide to managing holiday stress in a positive way.

The holidays provide perfect opportunities to spend time with loved ones over special meals, while connecting over conversation and laughter. However, as we age the holidays can become difficult. For many older adults, illness or physical and cognitive limitations can make the holiday season stressful and uncomfortable. However, the Alzheimer’s Association compiled a list of tips and suggestions to make the holiday season as enjoyable as possible. Whether you’re a caregiver with a lot on your mind, or an adult child preparing to travel with your aging parent, here’s everything you need to make your holidays easy, fun, and safe.

How to Beat Holiday Stress for Those Dealing with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

It’s not unusual for those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s to feel a sense of loss during the holidays. Some people living with Alzheimer’s might feel less comfortable in social settings and are prone to withdrawing. As the disease progresses, you might consider altering your holiday plans that works best with your family member living with Alzheimer’s. Here are a few tips to help you along the way:

Adjust Expectations

As the disease progresses, it’s important to keep your family members educated. Before you get together over the holidays, you might consider sending an email or letter with an update and actions to avoid or encourage. For example, if your loved one can’t remember names or who people are, it can be helpful to let your family members know this who might not be familiar with the disease.

Remember to take on only what you think you can handle. If you usually host a holiday dinner and it seems unmanageable this year, let your family members know and make other arrangements. Also, if you are a family member who is not a caregiver, understand that your holiday traditions may change to accommodate others.

Adapt Gift-Giving

If you celebrate the holidays by giving gifts, remember that some items can be dangerous to those who are living with Alzheimer’s, especially in severe cases. You might consider giving comfortable clothing, music, photo albums, treats, or an identification bracelet, which can also be helpful for the caregiver. If you are shopping for a caregiver, you might consider a gift certificate, housecleaning, or laundry services.

Involve Those with Alzheimer’s in Preparations and Celebrations

Try and keep those with Alzheimer’s engaged in the day’s activities. Giving him or her a task such as helping to prepare food, wrap packages, or decorating the dinner table might make the day more enjoyable.

Managing Holiday Stress When Traveling with Older Adults

As we age, traveling can become more difficult, especially when physical ability becomes more limited. If you plan on traveling for the holidays, either by car or airplane, here are some tips to help get you there safely.

• Plan ahead- When traveling with an older adult, especially if that person has dementia, you want to be prepared ahead of time. Start by planning out each aspect of your trip including flights, transportation, places to eat, and activities you want to do while you are away.

• Recognize warning signs of anxiety- If you’re traveling with someone who lives with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s important to know the warning signs of anxiety and how to reduce them. Create a plan with the person you’re traveling with so you will all be on the same page.

• Evaluate all options- In the beginning stages of planning, think about all of your options including places to stay and ways to travel. This way, you will be able to identify which way will be the most comfortable and accessible.

• Take advantage of airport security-If you are traveling by airplane, contact your airport beforehand and ask for help with getting through security and to your gate. This will help conserve energy and reduce the risk of falling.

• Choose accommodations carefully- When staying at a hotel, make sure to ask for exactly what you need, such as a walk-in shower or room on the first level. If you are staying with friends and family, it’s important to express your needs beforehand.

• Carry an itinerary- Before your trip, write an itinerary with all of your travel plans, including details about your trip such as flight times and names of hotels. Make copies of the itinerary to give to friends and family members in case they need to contact you.

• Carry medications with you- Make sure you pack all medications and an extra change of clothes in a carry-on bag that you can keep with you in case of emergencies.

How to Beat Holiday Stress for Caregivers

The holiday season can be an especially difficult time for caregivers. Routines are often hard to keep, and holiday parties, while fun and exciting, can also cause holiday stress, fatigue and tiredness in older adults. If you are a caregiver, here are a few ways to tend to your physical and mental wellbeing throughout the holiday season.

Find Time for Yourself

You might consider planning for respite care, so you can make time for yourself during the holidays. Respite care is the perfect opportunity to do holiday shopping, or do something you love to do but don’t often have time for during the week.

Manage Holiday Stress

Stress can cause many different physical symptoms like stomach irritation, blurred vision, and high blood pressure. If you begin to experience any of these symptoms, make sure to consult your healthcare practitioner.

Visit Your Doctor Regularly

Take time to get your regular checkups and ask your doctor about anything that might be concerning you. This could include exhaustion, fatigue, stress, or inability to sleep. Pay attention to your body and never ignore your symptoms.

Incorporate Activities That Give You Joy

Many caregivers struggle with making time for the things they love. During this holiday season, try and incorporate holiday activities you love the most. This can help manage stress, while also helping you to enjoy the holidays.

Finding Joy at Maplewood Senior Living

At Maplewood Senior Living, we wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season full of joy and happiness. If you’re interested in learning more about how our community can minimize stress for you and your loved one, we encourage you to schedule a tour. It is our goal to help residents find joy and caregivers find support each and every day. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more.

Is it Normal Aging? Knowing the Signs of Dementia

Group of seniors with dementia and caregiver playing with puzzle in retirement home

Our bodies go through a lot of changes as we age. Many people notice changes in their physical capabilities, appearances, and even their cognitive abilities as they age. But, not all of these changes are things to worry about. As we get older, we might experience forgetfulness or minor memory loss and mistake them for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Before you worry about these memory diseases, you should be aware of the normal signs of aging and the signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Typical Age-Related Changes and Memory Loss

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, signs of aging can actually start as young as 30 years old. The CDC published a list of ways aging can show up in our bodies.

Bones
Our bodies go through a lot of wear and tear throughout our lifetimes. It’s no surprise that our bones shrink, making them more fragile as we get older. The cartilage that protects our joints from rubbing together can start to wear down, causing pain and stiffness.

Heart and Blood Vessels
The arteries and blood vessels that pump blood to our hearts can stiffen with old age, causing our hearts to work harder. This means that physical activities like walking or climbing stairs can become much more difficult.

Muscles
According to the CDC, our muscles mass actually decreases 3-5% every decade after we reach the age of 30. This will cause the muscles to become less toned, and less able to contract and become more rigid.

Bladder and Bowels
Our bladder and bowel’s ability to stretch and then go back can decrease after time. This can cause more trips to the restroom, constipation, and leakage.

Skin
As we age, our skin can lose its elasticity, causing wrinkles and loose skin. A loss of elasticity can also make the skin more prone to bruising, scrapes, and cuts.

Vision
Aging can cause the lens in our eyes to harden, causing far-sightedness and cataracts. Cataracts can cause blurry vision and even blindness. If you sense any changes in your vision, make sure to consult your doctor right away.

Forgetfulness
It’s normal to experience forgetfulness and mild memory loss with aging, especially as our brain’s processing becomes slower. It’s not uncommon to forget appointments, when bills are due, or where you’ve put your eyeglasses. However, there is a difference between the symptoms of normal aging and the signs of dementia.

Common Signs of Dementia

Dementia is an overall term given to diseases and conditions involving severe memory loss. While forgetfulness is an expected part of aging, it can often be confused with the symptoms of dementia related diseases. If you’re having trouble differentiating between age-related forgetfulness and dementia, the NIA has published a list of warning signs.

Normal Aging Memory Loss:

  • Sporadic errors in decision-making
  • Occasionally missing payments on a bill
  • Forgetting which day it is
  • Misplacing common items such as keys or glasses

Signs of Dementia:

  • Making poor judgments most of the time
  • Forgetting to pay bills all of the time
  • Forgetting which day it is and being unable to recall it
  • Trouble with communicating needs or wants
  • Misplacing things and forgetting about them

Factors Influencing Memory Loss

While many older adults are affected by dementia, it’s not the only reason for changes in memory. In fact, memory loss can be attributed to a number of different factors.

Medical
Issues with blood flow, such as tumors and blood clots, can cause infections in the brain. Complications with medications, especially when consuming more than one type, can cause memory loss and confusion.

Emotional
We all go through trying times. But, it’s not uncommon to forget the affect they can have on our physical and mental states. Anxiety, depression, and stress can make us feel more forgetful. These symptoms can mirror those that come with dementia.

Genetics
While dementia and Alzheimer’s can be difficult to predict, researchers suggest that those who have a family history of memory disease are at a higher risk of developing a form of dementia themselves.

Cholesterol
High levels of cholesterol could increase your chances of developing dementia. Researchers suggest eating a balanced diet and discussing your heart-health with your healthcare provider.

Symptoms to Watch For

While the severity of dementia can vary in each person, there are some common symptoms that present themselves in dementia patients. The University of California San Francisco published a list of the most common dementia symptoms:

  • Getting lost even in familiar places
  • Asking repetitive questions
  • Unusual behaviors
  • Changes in personality
  • Inability to express feelings and emotions
  • Change in ability to comprehend
  • Forgetting recent events
  • Change in diet and appetite

Approaching a Loved One About Their Symptoms

Starting a conversation with a loved one about their signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can be extremely difficult. If your loved one is showing patterns of behavioral change, knowing how they will react to the conversation can be hard to predict. You might consider some following these tips to help guide your conversation:

Plan how you will start the conversation
Starting the conversation can be the hardest part. You might consider starting with, “I’ve noticed some changes in your behavior and I was wondering if you noticed anything too?”

Start the conversation early
You should have this conversation when you start noticing obvious behavioral changes. Approaching this conversation when your loved one’s cognitive function is at its highest will help you make decisions according to your loved one’s wishes.

Know who should be there
If your loved one is especially close with a family member or friend, you might consider asking them to be a part of the conversation.

Offer your support
This can be a scary time for the whole family. Offering your love and support to your loved one can go a long way.

Finding Support in Your Journey at Maplewood Senior Living

Navigating the complexities of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss can be really scary. If you’re still unsure if you’re experiencing the signs of dementia, check out our tip sheet. Our staff and caregivers at all of our Maplewood Senior Living communities strive to give our residents and their families the care and support they need. To learn more about our communities and our wide variety of offerings, schedule a tour or contact us here.

Maplewood Senior Living Walks to End Alzheimer’s

What You Should Know about Alzheimer’s Disease

The month of September is designated as World’s Alzheimer’s Month. Alzheimer’s disease isn’t just a national problem, it’s a global issue that affects nearly 44 million people worldwide. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is a memory disease, under the umbrella of dementia, which causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. As symptoms worsen, Alzheimer’s can ultimately affect a person’s ability to complete basic human tasks like speaking and eating.  The number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is expected to rapidly increase in the next 30 years— from 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s today to 14 million by 2050. As the threat of the Alzheimer’s epidemic increases, so do campaigns that spread awareness and raise funds devoted to finding a cure. The first step in spreading awareness of Alzheimer’s is to educate people on the causes of the disease.

Contributing Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease

While it would be impossible to identify just one cause of Alzheimer’s, researchers and scientists do believe there are a few leading causes of the disease. Some of the causes and factors can’t necessarily be changed, but some of them, like lifestyle and environment, can help inform our daily lives and decrease our chances of being diagnosed. Listed below are the associated causes and risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Age

While most people with Alzheimer’s get diagnosed after the age of 65, 10% of patients are diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s between the ages of 30 and 60. Age isn’t directly correlated with the disease, however the risk of being diagnosed doubles every five years after the age of 65.

Family History and Genetics

Adults who have immediate family members with Alzheimer’s disease are more at risk for being diagnosed than compared with families without a history of the disease. Researchers and scientists believe that the risk increases with each family member who has the disease. The reason behind this can possibly be attributed to genetics and environment.

According to the National Institute on Aging, researchers haven’t identified a specific gene known to cause the disease. However, many experts believe that those who carry a form of the APOE gene are more at risk of developing the disease than those who do not.

Environment and Lifestyle

Those who study Alzheimer’s believe there is a connection between the brain and the heart, which can ultimately influence the risk of developing the disease. This means that those who experience high-blood pressure, stroke, high cholesterol, or heart disease should be aware of the symptoms of the disease and consult with their healthcare provider. Eating a well-balanced diet and exercising daily will decrease your risk of heart disease, ultimately decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Brain health is also a factor when it comes to developing Alzheimer’s. Falls and brain trauma are also known to be underlying factors to the disease. Protecting your brain by wearing your seatbelt and decluttering your home to decrease your risk of falling, can help protect you from Alzheimer’s dementia.

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