Archive for Healthy Lifestyle

What’s the Deal with Aluminum?

aluminum pot

Have you ever heard that using aluminum pots or drinking from aluminum cans can increase your risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease? Despite the prevalence of this myth, very few experts believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat. In fact, several studies have failed to confirm any role of aluminum in Alzheimer’s disease.

Some key points to consider:

  • Most researchers and mainstream health care professionals believe, based on current knowledge, that consumption of aluminum is not a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • It is unlikely that people can significantly reduce their consumption of aluminum by avoiding aluminum containing cookware, foil, beverage cans, medications, or other products.
  • The exact role (if any) of aluminum in Alzheimer’s disease is still being research and debated.
  • If aluminum exposure had a major impact on risk, scientists would have already gained a clearer picture of its involvement over the decades that they have been studying the issue.
  • Research studies since the 1960s have failed to document a clear role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Although the results of some studies have suggested that consumption of aluminum may be linked to Alzheimer’s, just as many studies have found no link between aluminum consumption and Alzheimer’s.

To learn more about myth and Alzheimer’s disease, click here.

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Register with Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch

Clinical trials are essential to advancing Alzheimer’s disease research at a time when Alzheimer’s is reaching epidemic proportions. Through clinical studies conducted over the last 20 years, scientists have made tremendous strides in understanding how Alzheimer’s affects the brain. It is only through clinical studies that we will develop and test promising new strategies for treatment, prevention, diagnosis, and ultimately, a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

To learn more about how to participate in clinical trial, watch the video below about TrialMatch (a free, clinical-trial matching service).

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10 Ways to Love Your Brain

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Given the growing evidence that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline, and in recognition of Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month in June, the Alzheimer’s Association and its experts are sharing 10 Ways to Love Your Brain, tips that may reduce the risk of cognitive decline:

1. Break a sweat. Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body. Several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline.

2. Hit the books. Formal education in any stage of life will help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. For example, take a class at a local college, community center or online.

3. Butt out. Evidence shows that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.

4. Follow your heart. Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke – obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart, and your brain just might follow.

5. Heads up! Brain injury can raise your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seat belt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike, and take steps to prevent falls.

6. Fuel up right. Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Although research on diet and cognitive function is limited, certain diets, including Mediterranean and Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), may contribute to risk reduction.

7. Catch some Zzz’s. Not getting enough sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problems with memory and thinking.

8. Take care of your mental health. Some studies link a history of depression with increased risk of cognitive decline, so seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns. Also, try to manage stress.

9. Buddy up. Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. Find ways to be part of your local community – if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or help at an afterschool program. Or, just share activities with friends and family.

10. Stump yourself. Challenge and activate your mind. Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Do something artistic. Play games, such as bridge, that make you think strategically. Challenging your mind may have short and long-term benefits for your brain.

To learn more, click here: abam2015_infographic

 

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What’s the Deal with Aluminum?

aluminum pot

Have you ever heard that using aluminum pots or drinking from aluminum cans can increase your risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease? Despite the prevalence of this myth, very few experts believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat. In fact, several studies have failed to confirm any role of aluminum in Alzheimer’s disease.

Some key points to consider:

  • Most researchers and mainstream health care professionals believe, based on current knowledge, that consumption of aluminum is not a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • It is unlikely that people can significantly reduce their consumption of aluminum by avoiding aluminum containing cookware, foil, beverage cans, medications, or other products.
  • The exact role (if any) of aluminum in Alzheimer’s disease is still being research and debated.
  • If aluminum exposure had a major impact on risk, scientists would have already gained a clearer picture of its involvement over the decades that they have been studying the issue.
  • Research studies since the 1960s have failed to document a clear role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Although the results of some studies have suggested that consumption of aluminum may be linked to Alzheimer’s, just as many studies have found no link between aluminum consumption and Alzheimer’s.

To learn more about myth and Alzheimer’s disease, click here.

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Fall Prevention

physicial therapy rehab

Every year, nearly 1/3 of all older adults will suffer from some type of fall. Older adults with dementia, however, are more than twice as likely to fall than those without cognitive impairment. Their falls may also be more severe, perhaps resulting in serious bone fractures, hospitalization, or life-threatening injuries. Persons with dementia that suffer from a fall at home are more likely to be admitted into some type of institutional care. In addition, the cost of treating and rehabilitating seniors that have fallen has sky-rocketed in recent years (Montero-Odasso, 2012).

walking down a hall

Researcher continue to study the most helpful methods for reducing risk of falls and preventing injury in those with dementia. Below are some tips that may be helpful in managing fall risk:

  • Implement a regular exercise program to maintain muscle and joint strength
  • Work with the person’s physician(s) to ensure that medication are not causing adverse side effects that could contribute to falls (e.g. dizziness, vertigo)
  • Maintain a regular toileting schedule for the person
  • Anticipate the person’s needs
  • Have a knowledge for the person’s likes, dislikes, routine, preferences, etc.
  • Ensure that clothing and shoes fit properly and are in good condition. Avoid slippers with no supportive backing, pants that are too long for the person, etc.
  • Clearly label key places in the home or residence, such as the bathroom or bedroom, even if the person has lived there for some time.
  • Ensure that the environment is clutter-free. Remove throw rugs that could slip beneath the person.
  • Create a visible pathway from the bedroom to the bathroom, particularly at night. Consider using a bedside commode.
  • If falling in bed is a concern, consider using lowering the mattress directly onto the floor. Do not install bed rails as this could increase the person’s agitation and restlessness. Many individuals with dementia may view bed rails as a sign that they are expected to be incontinent, or they perceive the rails as an obstacle to overcome, increasing the height of their fall. The person could become fatally injured if their head were to get caught between the rails.
  • Make sure the bathroom is not conducive for falls.  Remove clutter, use grab bars, and non-skid strip. A shower chair may be helpful.
  • Use color contrast where appropriate – for instance, a person may not see a white toilet in front of a white wall. Consider using a brightly colored toilet seat to draw the person’s attention.
  • Make sure there is ample lighting in well traversed areas.
  • Provide places for the person to stop and rest, if walking on a long hallway or path.
  • Ensure the person wears sensory aids, such as glasses or hearing aids, if needed.

 

References

Montero-Odasso, M. M. (2012). Gait and Cognition: A Complementary Approach to Understanding Brain Function and the Risk of Falling. Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society60(11), 2127-2136.

van Doorn, C. (2003). Dementia as a Risk Factor for Falls and Fall Injuries Among Nursing Home Residents. Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society51(9), 1213-1218.

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The Ramifications of Caregiver Stress

More than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. 505,000 of them reside in Michigan. In 2013, millions of caregivers provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care, a contribution to the nation valued at more than $220 billion.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) caregivers care longer, on average, than those caring for someone without AD. Caregiver stress is known to increase the longer one provides care, making this population particularly susceptible to burnout, depression and other poor outcomes. Caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease are often providing assistance to the person before they even receive a formal diagnosis – making the length of caregiving even greater.

 

Length of Caregiving.png

 

Caregiving for someone with AD can involve multiple types of care, sometimes requiring the acquisition of new knowledge and skills (e.g. how to feed someone), significant time commitments, emotional and psychological stress (e.g. making major decisions), etc.

Clearly, caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or another dementia poses special challenges. For example, the person with AD experiences losses in judgment, orientation, and the ability to understand and communicate effectively. Family caregivers must often help people with AD manage these issues. The personality and behavior of a person with AD are affected as well, and these changes are often among the most challenging for family caregivers. It is not surprising that many areas of the caregiver’s life may be deleteriously affected.

Mental Health

  • 39% of caregivers of people with dementia suffer from depressions compared with 17% of non-caregivers.
  • Increased incidence of anxiety

Physical Health

  • Higher levels of stress hormones
  • Reduced immune function
  • Slower wound healing
  • Increased incidence of hypertension
  • Increased incidence of coronary heart disease
  • Elevated biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk
  • Impaired kidney function
  • Trouble sleeping

Financial

  • 56% of family caregivers report “a good amount” to “a great deal” of caregiving strain concerning financial issues
  • Poor outcomes at the workplace

Professional Outcomes

 

Want to combat caregiver stress? Review the tips listed below:

1. Get a diagnosis as early as possible. Consult a geriatric physician when you see signs of memory loss or personality changes. Don’t delay! Some of the illnesses causing memory loss or personality changes are treatable.

2. Know what resources are available. Your local Alzheimer’s Association Chapter can help you find adult day programs, respite care, visiting nurses, meals on wheels, physicians and more.

3. Become an educated caregiver. Learn about the disease. As the disease progresses, new caregiving skills are required. Read, research, and learn new skills. Learn about resources that are available. The Alzheimer’s Association offers programs to help you better understand and cope with the behaviors and personality changes that sometimes accompany Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Get help! Caregiving is a job, and just like any other job, you can’t do it 24/7. Ask for help early and often. Seek the support of family, friends, and community resources. Help can come from paid caregivers, family or friends.

5. Take care of yourself! Watch your diet, exercise, and get plenty of rest. Make time for yourself. Manage stress as it occurs.

 

 

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