Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia which primarily affects the parts of the brain that control memory, resulting in progressive and permanent neurological damage. The disease affects more than 5 million Americans. While research continues to bring us closer to effective treatments, there are additional steps that patients, their families and caregivers can take to help fight this condition.
- Physical exercise: Engaging in a healthy amount of physical activity has significant health benefits for the brain as well as the heart, vascular system and body’s physical strength. Studies have shown that exercise can stimulate the brain’s ability to maintain older neural networks as well as stimulate new connections. It’s recommended that people over 65 years of age do 40 minutes a day of aerobic (e.g., walking or water aerobics) or non-aerobic exercise (e.g., stretching and toning muscles) to experience the full benefits.
- Mental exercise: A healthy body is important, but so is an active mind. Just like a muscle, the brain needs to be regularly challenged in order to maintain a healthy level of cognitive function. Stimulation is also vital to maintaining cognitive pathways and building new connections. Some of the best forms of mental stimulation include reading, doing crossword puzzles, playing games, social interaction and social activities such as going to museums or community events.
- Diet: Research has shown that certain foods can help keep the brain healthy while others can be harmful to cognitive health. A diet rich in lots of fruit, fish oil, legumes, vegetables (especially broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables) and whole grains is recommended. Foods such as saturated fats and refined carbohydrates (like white sugar) should be avoided, as studies indicate these foods may assist cognitive decline, especially in the areas of the brain focused on learning and memory.
- Early diagnosis: Knowing the signs of early onset Alzheimer’s, working on mental and physical health, as well as having access to professional and medical assistance will help ensure your loved one is kept comfortable, healthy and independent for as long as possible. An early diagnosis will allow caregivers to start implementing the best measures available as soon as possible.
Memory care and support services at UMH New Jersey
Housed in Assisted Living, the memory care and support residences at UMH are specially designed to support individuals with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. By focusing on customized care plans and activities within our comfortable apartment-style communities, we maximize your loved one’s dignity and quality of life .
This content was originally posted at http://www.umh-nj.org/blog/how-to-fight-alzheimers-disease/