Advances in Alzheimer’s Disease Research

bigstock Male scientist observing exper 58750010 300x200 - Advances in Alzheimer’s Disease ResearchOver one hundred years ago, Auguste D. was the first person to be diagnosed with what we now know as Alzheimer’s disease. A German physician, Dr. Alois Alzheimer, studied Auguste’s brain upon her death and found abnormal deposits around the nerve cells. In 1910, Alzheimer’s colleague, Emil Kraepelin, officially named the Alzheimer’s findings after him in his book, Psychiatrie.

Fast forward about 65 years; in 1976, Alzheimer’s disease is officially identified as the most common cause of dementia by a neurologist named Robert Katzman.  Just a few years later, in 1980, the Alzheimer’s Association was founded after the National Institute on Aging saw the need for a nonprofit organization to encourage federal efforts on Alzheimer’s disease.

Since the 1990s, treatments have begun to emerge out of all the Alzheimer’s disease research from the prior 30 years or so. The current treatments for Alzheimer’s work by improving symptoms of memory loss and problems with thinking and reasoning, albeit only temporarily. These treatments are not a cure; there is no way yet to stop or prevent Alzheimer’s.

Currently there are five FDA approved Alzheimer’s drugs that help with the memory loss and cognitive problems associated with the disease. Researchers believe that future treatments will involve a combination of medications aimed at several targets, similar to the current treatments for AIDS and many cancers.

Thanks to the advances in Alzheimer’s disease research over the past 30 years, researchers now have a good understanding of the differences between healthy brain function and the indicators of Alzheimer’s. These current studies include investigating:

  • Targeting the protein beta-amyloid (plaques), long considered a sign of Alzheimer’s, through immunization strategies and experimental drugs to reduce the amount of beta-amyloid formed in the brain.
  • Investigating strategies to keep tau protein molecules from collapsing and twisting into microscopic fibers called tangles. These tangles are another key brain abnormality among Alzheimer’s patients.
  • Reducing inflammation Alzheimer’s causes in cells in the brain.
  • Exploring the role insulin plays in the brain. Researcher are looking into how brain cells use sugar and produce energy to reveal strategies that could support cell function to ward off Alzheimer’s-related changes.

On top of these strategies, this past summer at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, results were presented from a two-year clinical trial in Finland which was known as the FINGER study- the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability. The study looked at 1,260 adults aged 60 to 77 who were at risk for developing Alzheimer’s to see how physical activity, good nutrition, social interaction and cognitive training affected overall cognitive performance. The results were positive, showing that it is possible to prevent cognitive decline through a series of different interventions and methods among those older individuals at risk.

More studies are needed and will continue to be conducted. In 2011, President Obama signed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) into law, which requires that an annually updated national plan will be submitted to Congress on how to overcome Alzheimer’s, as well as annual evaluations of all federally funded efforts in Alzheimer’s disease research and their outcomes.

 

Alzheimer’s Myths Debunked

bigstock Nurse And Patient 55309664 300x200 - Alzheimer’s Myths DebunkedMany people have a distinct fear of growing older, especially when it comes to the physical limitations they might start to encounter. Concerns about memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease contribute even more to these fears. However, having what is called a “senior moment”, when you forget where you left your keys or can’t recall the mailman’s name, is much different than Alzheimer’s disease, which is a degenerative brain disease causing physical changes to the brain.

Having the knowledge to debunk some of the biggest Alzheimer’s disease myths will help ease some of your concerns and can help you recognize what memory loss is part of the normal aging process.

Alzheimer’s Disease Myths

1)      Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented. There are a lot of ways out there to help keep your brain “healthy,” but unfortunately there is no way to prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Lifestyle choices, like eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels low, exercising daily and challenging your brain through new hobbies and continued learning, can help reduce the risk or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Early detection and diagnosis are also key to receiving the best treatment for the disease.

2)      Alzheimer’s is part of the normal aging process. Experts say that although it seems like the majority of seniors develop Alzheimer’s disease, actually the opposite is true. As we age, our memory does change, but only significant memory loss and personality changes are signs of Alzheimer’s.

3)      If your relatives have Alzheimer’s, you’ll have it too. While genetics do play a role in the chances of developing the disease, only a small number of cases are known to be the inherited form of the disease called Familial Alzheimer’s disease or “early onset.”  However, if your parent carries the gene mutation for Alzheimer’s, you have a 50 percent chance of developing the disease yourself.  Experts do note that the genes do not cause the disease, and people who do not carry the mutated gene can still develop Alzheimer’s.

4)      Alzheimer’s is a disease affecting only the elderly. By age 85, almost half of the population will have experienced at least some memory loss or dementia, and the older we get the more likely we are to develop Alzheimer’s. The majority of Alzheimer’s disease cases do show up after age 60.  However, early onset Alzheimer’s can show up in middle age and in some rare cases has been shown to affect those in their thirties.

5)      An Alzheimer’s diagnosis means you will be violent, aggressive and/or unresponsive to your environment completely. While personality changes are common with Alzheimer’s disease, becoming violent and aggressive does not always occur. Some people can become restless, suspicious and frequently wander. But not all those with Alzheimer’s become unresponsive and unaware of what’s going on around them. Even though memory abilities are changing, Alzheimer’s patients still have feelings and need social connections. It’s important to maintain a consistent routine and learn how to best communicate with your loved one, whether it be through a soothing voice or even music therapy.

6)      There are very few treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. Every day, researchers are making advances in Alzheimer’s disease treatments. Several types of drugs are available that might delay or improve some of the symptoms of the disease, as well as new strategies to help improve quality of life for those affected. There is always hope.

An Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis doesn’t mean that your independence is over completely. If you start noticing some of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease in yourself or your loved one, seek treatment as soon as possible. Remember to focus on what you can still do, not what your limitations are.

 

 

Hearing Loss and Dementia

bigstock Closeup of a senior woman s ha 22914224 200x300 - Hearing Loss and DementiaRecently, a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that there is a link between older adults who suffer hearing loss and those who suffer from dementia.

Researchers concluded while the brain does tend to shrink as we age, shrinkage can occur faster when hearing loss is also a factor. People who suffer from severe hearing loss are actually five times more likely to suffer cognitive impairment than those have normal hearing. Even those with just mild hearing impairment are twice as likely to develop dementia.

Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health condition in older adults, and can be caused by genetics or natural changes to the inner ear.  Constant exposure to loud noises and even smoking can also have a negative effect on your hearing.

The Johns Hopkins study revealed that more research needs to be done regarding the correlation between hearing loss and dementia. Overall, they found that those with impaired hearing lost more brain tissue each year compared to people with normal hearing, as well as more shrinkage in particular regions of the brain. Another study is being planned to see if early action to treat hearing loss can help prevent or delay the onset of dementia.

Reasons to Have Your Hearing Regularly Checked

Your hearing can affect more than just your memory. It’s important to schedule an initial hearing exam if you’re noticing that you are having difficulty hearing. Don’t simply accept it as an inevitable part of the aging process.

Hearing loss is not only associated with dementia, but it is also a factor in several other health problems, such as:

  • Diabetes. Studies have been done that show there is not only a link between hearing loss and dementia, but also a correlation between hearing loss and diabetes. Hearing loss is twice as common in people who have diabetes than in those who don’t, due to poor control over blood sugar levels.  Over time, poor blood sugar control can cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves in the ear.
  • Cardiovascular health. A healthy heart is linked to your ability to hear; abnormalities in the cardiovascular system can be noted earlier because the inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow.
  • Risk of falls. Those with hearing loss are about three times more likely to have a history of falling, according to another study done by Johns Hopkins.
  • Problems sleeping. Hearing loss can affect how well you’re sleeping; studies have found that sleep apnea has been associated even with mild hearing impairment.
  • Depression. Hearing loss can lead to social isolation, which is a large factor in depression among seniors. Having to constantly try to decipher what people are saying can sometimes become too much for seniors to handle, and they no longer seek out social activities. Social isolation not only leads to depression, but it also plays a role in the risk for dementia.

Today’s hearing aids have better sound and are barely noticeable when worn, so don’t put off a hearing test that can improve your quality of life.

 

Mental Illness vs. Dementia in the Elderly

dfc56bb8ce781c62f662ab2e2e8106e5 - Mental Illness vs. Dementia in the Elderly

bigstock Face Of Alzheimers Disease 4309922 300x247 - Mental Illness vs. Dementia in the ElderlyWhen people think of dementia, it’s common to think of it as a mental illness due to the effects the condition has on the brain. However, there are distinctions that should be made between dementia and mental illness in order to properly diagnose the individual. While dementia does affect mental health, it is not a mental illness, but a disorder of the brain that causes memory loss and trouble with communicating.

Proper diagnosis of mental illness or dementia in the elderly is vital in order ensure that appropriate treatment is provided as soon as possible. Misdiagnosis of mental illness in seniors can occur easily since symptoms are so similar to dementia, like confusion and erratic behavior.

Dementia symptoms

The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which causes cells in the brain that control memory to die. It is an irreversible condition that occurs in severe and moderate stages in three million people over the age of 65.

While dementia does affect all individuals differently, the main symptoms of dementia include:

  • Difficulty communicating. Dementia patients often have a difficult time completing sentences or finding the right words. Also, words can get mixed up or used incorrectly.
  • Increased memory issues. Forgetfulness will start to occur more and more often, along with problems remembering how to do daily activities like cooking, cleaning and dressing.
  • General confusion. Those with dementia begin getting confused about what time of day it is, or even what year they’re living in. They also have a hard time recognizing friends and family members or think they are someone else entirely. Dementia patients may also start losing or misplacing items, even accusing others of stealing their belongings.
  • Personality and emotional changes. Dementia will cause personality changes to individuals, and can affect their moods as well. Those with dementia are often fearful or depressed and experience severe mood swings.

Common Mental Illnesses in the Elderly

If a senior is displaying signs of mental illness, it’s important to recognize the symptoms and seek treatment as soon as possible. Some of the common mental illnesses the elderly experience are:

  • Depression. Depression is considered the most common mental disorder among seniors. Social isolation plays a major role in emotional wellness, so when a senior spends long periods alone because they are unable to drive or live far away from friends and family, depression can easily set in. It is also a symptom of dementia and tends to get overlooked as a treatable ailment.
  • Late onset bipolar. Most bipolar patients are diagnosed in early adulthood. Late onset bipolar can be difficult to diagnose because of its similarities to dementia symptoms like agitation, manic behavior and delusions.
  • Late onset schizophrenia. This disorder also presents a challenge to diagnose. It can manifest in adults after age 45 and appears as the patient ages. Symptoms are similar to dementia, once again, with hallucinations and paranoia the most common, but these symptoms are milder than when this illness appears in younger adults.

Mental illnesses are treatable, but the trick is a correct diagnosis. Even if a senior had good mental health throughout their entire life, the risk of mental illness in later years is still there. Seek medical treatment as soon as possible if there are any noticeable changes beginning to occur.

 

Can Proper Sleep Habits Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

1ca9f9accc7cac21d875e53f81b99fec - Can Proper Sleep Habits Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

bigstock senior woman sleeping on bed 41561011 300x200 - Can Proper Sleep Habits Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?The week of March 2nd through the 8th has been declared Sleep Awareness Week by the National Sleep Foundation. Sleep Awareness Week offers a way to inform the public and promote the importance of sleep through awareness campaigns and education programs. The foundation will share annual results of their “Sleep in America” poll at the start of the week and end with the clock change to Daylight Savings Time, where some Americans lose an hour of sleep.

Previous polls the Sleep Foundation has done involved looking at sleep in the modern family, exercise and sleep, adult sleep habits and styles, and sleep and the aging.

Sleep Issues in the Elderly

According to the Sleep Foundation’s 2003 poll regarding aging adults and sleep, 44% of seniors experience one or more types of insomnia at least a few times per week. When insomnia begins affecting your daily life, it’s time to see a doctor to discuss your symptoms. If left untreated, insomnia can start to take a serious toll on your health, leading to excessive daytime sleepiness and trouble concentrating, as well as increasing your risks for illness and accidents.

Some of the common sleep problems the elderly experience include:

  • Sleep apnea: Snoring is the most common cause of sleep disruption and can become worse with age. Loud snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea, when you can actually stop breathing for 10-60 seconds. This is a serious condition and can lead to cardiovascular disease, headaches, memory loss and depression.
  • Restless leg syndrome: RLS is a neurological disorder in which sufferers experience tingling, creeping and overall unpleasant feelings in the legs.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease: When your stomach contents leak backwards into your esophagus, this can cause heartburn which can worsen when you lie down. This pain can make it difficult to sleep.

Other issues contributing to poor sleep in the elderly can be diabetes, asthma, and diseases like Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.

Sleep Habits for Alzheimer’s Prevention

A recent study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed that sleeping poorly and/or getting less sleep may contribute to an accelerated risk for Alzheimer’s disease. They found that poor sleeping habits were tied to increase in brain levels of beta-amyloid, the toxic protein that builds up and forms plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers.

The researchers studied the sleep habits of 70 seniors with an average age of 76 years old, finding that those who slept under five hours per night or did not sleep restfully had higher levels of the beta-amyloid protein in the brain over those who slept seven hours or more per night.

These findings are important because more research is needed to determine whether better sleep habits are beneficial for Alzheimer’s prevention. Sleep disturbances can be easily treated, so it’s important to mention issues with it to your doctor.

A good night’s sleep is critical for an overall healthy lifestyle, and can help lessen problems like memory and thinking issues as well as give you more energy for daily tasks- and it may even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

 

What is Dementia Staging?

fa6fc8b584ac5b240feb59a4769246e3 - What is Dementia Staging?

bigstock Senior Woman With Her Elder Ca 69141397 300x212 - What is Dementia Staging?Dementia staging refers to the ability to understand exactly what stage of the disease your loved one is in to help provide the correct level of care needed. As a caregiver, it can be difficult to take a step back and try to allow your loved one to continue doing things on his or her own, but over-caring can actually do more harm than good.

Defining the stage of the disease your loved one is in will help physicians or therapists determine the proper approach to treatment, which will lead to better communication between the caregiver, health professionals and the patient.

The Stages of Dementia

Usually, the stages of dementia are referred to as “early-stage,” “middle-stage” or “late-stage,” however, there are actually seven stages of dementia:

Stage 1 – No Cognitive Decline: This person has not experienced any memory-related issues and overall is mentally healthy. They have no problems with judgment, communication skills or daily activities.

Stage 2 –Very Mild Cognitive Decline: Occasional lapses of memory occur but aren’t noticed by family or friends. Studies show that half of all people over age 65 begin noticing some cognitive difficulties, but at this stage these difficulties are considered a normal part of the aging process.

Stage 3 – Mild Cognitive Decline: At this stage, you’ll start to notice mild changes in memory, behavior, and/or the communication skills of your loved one. They may have trouble recalling names or words, have difficulty with planning and organization, performing daily tasks, misplacing objects and forgetting things they just learned.

Stage 4 –Moderate Cognitive Decline: Cognitive impairment symptoms are more obvious at this stage and are easily detectable by a physician or therapist. Your loved one will exhibit confusion completing tasks like cooking, driving or shopping. They may forget recent events or conversations and have trouble handling their finances. They may also withdraw socially and experience mood swings or depression.

Stage 5 – Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline: Your loved one will require assistance with day to day activities at this stage. They will experience severe memory loss, disorientation over what day or season it is and decreased personal hygiene skills. However, it is common in this stage for the sufferer to still recognize significant family members.

Stage 6 – Severe Cognitive Decline: At this stage your loved one loses the ability to recognize family and has noticeable personality changes, like paranoia, suspiciousness or extreme anxiety. They’ll need help with many basic daily tasks. They may begin to wander and withdraw from their surroundings, or show signs of agitation and hallucinations in the late afternoon or evening hours.

Stage 7 – Very Severe Cognitive Decline (late-stage): In this final stage, the sufferer will no longer be able to respond as communication has become very limited. Help will be needed around the clock for all daily personal care.

The Benefits of Dementia Staging

It’s important to focus on allowing our loved ones suffering from dementia to maintain as much independence as possible. The more you do for them as a caregiver, the more dependent upon your help your loved one will become.

This is why an assessment of their condition is so necessary. Knowing what stage our loved one is in will allow memory care professionals the information they need to help  us help our loved one adjust a new sort of lifestyle, whether it’s dealing with a family caregiver or helping build new relationships with staff members at a memory care facility. It also lets us know what concerns we should have for his or her safety. We need to understand our loved one’s current abilities to help nurture them, allowing them to live a better, more independent life.

 

Foods that Help Boost Your Memory

7bd23bb877cd2abbf6a7bab4be0ec015 - Foods that Help Boost Your Memory

bigstock cheerful mature woman having g 66705160 300x200 - Foods that Help Boost Your MemoryYou already know the importance your diet has on your body, as far as weight management and maintaining good overall physical health. But did you know that certain foods can also help improve or even repair your memory?

Research has been conducted that found links between the compounds and nutrients found in some “superfoods” that resulted in a reduced rate of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. By incorporating some of these foods into your everyday meals, there’s a strong possibility that you could increase your odds of maintaining a healthy brain as you age.

The Best Foods That Improve Memory

If you’re looking for ways to improve your memory, look no further than your daily meal plan. Try adding in some of these foods that can boost your memory:

  • Rich in dietary antioxidants, blueberries have been found to be especially good at protecting the brain from oxidative stress and improving cognitive function in seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Other berries like strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries can be easily added to your morning breakfast cereal or eaten as a healthy sweet snack in the afternoon.
  • Leafy greens. All veggies have great health benefits, and leafy green vegetables in particular have been shown to help protect the brain from damage and slow cognitive decline. The general rule is that the more colorful the food, the better “superfood” qualities it will contain. Incorporate leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce and arugula into a lovely lunch or dinner salad. You can even throw some berries on it for that extra boost!
  • Fish like salmon, tuna, halibut, trout, and mackerel are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and more evidence is being found that indicates omega-3s are a powerful source when it comes to boosting your brainpower and lowering the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Don’t like seafood? You can also get omega-3s in foods like walnuts, winter squash, pinto or kidney beans, and even some of the leafy greens we mentioned.
  • Seeds and nuts. Vitamin E has been shown to help reduce cognitive decline as well, and seeds and nuts contain high levels of vitamin E (along with omega-3s!). It’s recommended to eat about an ounce per day of foods like sunflower seeds, flaxseed, almonds, cashews, peanuts, or even unhydrogenated nut butters like peanut butter or almond butter.
  • Green tea. Relax at the end of each day with a nice, freshly brewed cup of green tea. Whether it’s hot or cold, as long as it’s brewed fresh green tea contains polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that protect the brain from damaging free radicals. Some green teas also contain caffeine, which has also been shown to boost not only your brain power, but also your mood and focus.
  • Dark chocolate. Think it sounds too good to be true? Dark chocolate also has strong antioxidants and caffeine and can stimulate the production of endorphins. Of course, dark chocolate should be eaten in moderation. You only need about an ounce of this treat per day to get the benefits.

Whether your memory needs a boost or not, eating a healthy diet with elements of these superfoods will help you feel your best, no matter what your age.

 

How to Deal with Personality Changes in Your Loved One

c71c29dc620ec6d964bf5b83211cd383 - How to Deal with Personality Changes in Your Loved One

bigstock Seniors woman with her caregiv 60242687 1 300x205 - How to Deal with Personality Changes in Your Loved OneWhen you think of Alzheimer’s disease, you typically associate the loss of cognitive functions, like memory and judgment. While the loss of these are very much symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, another very challenging issue for family members or caregivers is the changes in personality your loved one may face.

Because Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain, it causes nerve cells in the brain to die which can change how a person acts and reacts to certain situations. As the disease progresses, the symptoms tend to worsen as well. However, it’s important to remember that your loved one will have good days along with the bad.

Personality and Behavior Changes due to Alzheimer’s

Understanding the personality and behavior changes your loved one may go through as part of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is important for learning how to correctly cope with these changes. Some of the common personality changes that may occur are:

  • Easily becoming worried or upset.
  • Acting disinterested in events or conversation.
  • Showing signs of depression.
  • Pacing often or even wandering away from home.
  • Displaying signs of aggression or violence, like hitting or biting.
  • Delusions or hallucinations; imagining things that aren’t really there.
  • Hiding things from you or accusing you of hiding things.

In addition to these changes, you might notice that your loved one may stop bathing or caring about how he or she looks. He or she may wear the same clothes for several days in a row, or wear inappropriate clothing for the time of year (like wearing a thick sweater during the summer or shorts during the winter).

Besides the changes in the brain, there are certain other triggers that could affect the personality or behavior of someone with Alzheimer’s disease. For instance, your loved one may simply feel anxious and confused, or sad and scared. Health issues such as lack of sleep or new medications can cause personality changes. Your loved one may have problems with his or her environment, like it’s unfamiliar, too loud or interrupting a routine.

Coping with Personality Changes

As a caregiver, it’s important to remember that the disease is causing these personality or behavior changes in your loved one, and to try not to take anything your loved one says personally. Your loved one is not purposely trying to hurt your feelings.

Remember to keep things simple for your loved one. Don’t overwhelm them by asking several questions at once, or try to argue or reason with the person; use redirection as much as possible. If you get angry or frustrated, count to ten and take a few deep breaths until you have calmed down. Try to focus on your loved one’s feelings rather than your loved one’s words. If you’re concerned about wandering, find a safe place for your loved one to walk.

If a behavior becomes serious, like your loved one is displaying signs of aggression or hallucinations on a regular basis, talk to a physician about your concerns. There are medications that can help treat these symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Tips to Help Ease Sundowner’s Syndrome

5c3420851c64bf8e102a53699b64f6c6 - Tips to Help Ease Sundowner’s Syndrome

bigstock Elderly couple at sunset 61483532 300x200 - Tips to Help Ease Sundowner’s SyndromeOne of the common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is called sundowning, or Sundowner’s Syndrome. The term “sundowning” refers to the confusion and agitation that can set in during the evening hours and into the night for some of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Approximately 20 percent of the more than 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s are affected by this phenomenon.

Like Alzheimer’s disease, the actual cause of Sundowner’s Syndrome isn’t known. While this means that the treatments for sundowning are also not very well established, there are certain techniques that seem to help ease the symptoms of those suffering from it.

Factors that Trigger Sundowning

Some of the most common factors that can trigger sundowning symptoms like confusion, anxiety, aggression or wandering include:

  • Low lighting. Lack of good lighting can increase shadows in the room, causing more confusion and making it more difficult for those already visually challenged.
  • End of day activities. Too much stimulation at the end of the day, or lack of structured activities at the end of the day, can enhance sundowning symptoms.
  • Change in staff at assisted living community. There can be a lot of activity surrounding shift changes at an assisted living community, which can disrupt a routine and cause anxiety.
  • Fatigue. Exhaustion at the end of the day contributes to sundowning, as well as the lack of activity that may occur after dinner, causing restlessness.
  • Chemical changes in the brain/hormonal imbalances. There could be an internal hormonal imbalance or disruptions to the body’s internal clock, or even chemical changes in the brain that cause anxiety before falling asleep.

Coping with Sundowner’s Syndrome

It is possible to manage some of the symptoms of Sundowner’s Syndrome; the key is finding an approach that works best for your loved one. Some general tips include:

  • Create a predictable routine. Maintain a predictable schedule for waking, meals, activities, and bedtime.
  • Encourage daily physical activities. Plan activities that use more energy at the beginning of the day and encourage your loved one to take part in exercise each day.
  • Monitor diet. Make sure your loved one is eating a healthy diet, limiting caffeine and sugar to the morning hours. The biggest meal should be eaten during the middle of the day, and keep snacks light after dinner.
  • Practice light therapy. There is lighting available that provides full spectrum light, which can help minimize some of the sundowning symptoms. Keep rooms well lit and free of shadows, and use night lights to help reduce stress if your loved one needs to get up in the middle of the night.
  • Provide a good sleeping environment. Keep the sleeping area quiet and comfortable. Play soft music and keep the noise level low to help your loved one relax and settle in for the night.
  • Discourage daytime naps. Naps should be kept at a minimum, especially if your loved one has trouble sleeping through the night.
  • Get medical advice. Certain medications can help your loved one get a good night’s sleep. Just make sure you talk to a doctor first, as some medications can actually disrupt sleep and energy patterns, thus making sundowning symptoms worse.

It’s also important to remember that Sundowner’s Syndrome is part of Alzheimer’s disease, and that your loved one is not purposely acting out in the evening. Try to remain calm to avoid unnecessary stress that can harm your own health.

 

Train Your Brain! How Brain Games Help Improve Dementia Symptoms

988554035b458afde236f57bb8733d83 - Train Your Brain! How Brain Games Help Improve Dementia Symptoms

bigstock Active Seniors Group Of Old F 41861599 300x200 - Train Your Brain! How Brain Games Help Improve Dementia SymptomsJust like our bodies, our brains can begin to slow down and lose some “muscle”, or some cognitive function, as we go through the aging process. This is one of the reasons why staying mentally active can help improve our memory and even delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. For those who are already experiencing memory loss, adding some brain games for memory improvement can not only slow cognitive impairment further, but they can be fun, too!

The Benefits of Brain Exercise

Studies have shown that keeping your brain active leads to less of a decline in your thinking skills. For example, a study was conducted in which participants aged 65 or older took brain training that involved skill of memory, reasoning, and speed of processing information. The study found that those older adults who took the brain training showed improvements in all skills- and the improvements lasted for at least five years! Everyday tasks like balancing the checkbook and doing housework also improved.

Along with brain exercise, living a healthy life overall can also reduce the risk for dementia. Eating a well-balanced diet that’s low in fat and cholesterol and high in nutrients and antioxidants, along with exercising regularly, can improve your brain health. Avoid boredom as much as possible; passive activities like sitting and watching TV for hours can be detrimental to your brain as well.

Memory Games for Seniors

So, what are some of the brain games for dementia that can help slow some of the symptoms? Here are just a few ideas:

  • Make lists. Test your memory recall by making a list and trying to memorize it. A list of chores to accomplish, things you need from the grocery store, etc. Try to remember what you wrote down an hour or so later.
  • Card games. Get a group of friends together weekly for a few rounds of your favorite card games. If you’re having some dementia symptoms, keep it simple and play games like War that don’t have many steps to them.
  • Board games. Play some fun, easy board games with your grandchildren. Get them involved by allowing them to bring their favorite game when they come visit.
  • Learn an instrument. Learning something new is a great way to stimulate the brain. Instead of an instrument, you can also consider taking a class to learn a second language.
  • Test your taste buds. When eating a new dish, try to identify the subtle flavors from herbs and spices and other ingredients.
  • Do a puzzle. Putting together a puzzle helps test your hand-eye coordination and keeps your concentration levels high.
  • Start a new hobby. Challenge yourself by taking up a hobby like knitting, painting, writing, etc.

The best part about most of these memory games for seniors is that many of them also provide a great way to stay socially connected as well. Maintaining social relationships help improve your brain, too!

While there is no cure for dementia, these brain exercises can help delay some of the symptoms and keep your brain active and healthy longer.