Many middle-aged adults are concerned about developing memory loss later in life. While there is no guaranteed way to prevent memory loss, researchers are finding out more and more about how the brain works and how to keep it healthy. Here are five important steps you can take to maintain a healthy brain:
People are good for our brain.
Choose vegetables, fish, eggs, legumes (lentils, beans), nuts, olive oil and fruits. Limit red meat, alcohol and sugar. Avoid processed and packaged food as much as possible. A healthful diet will also reduce the risk for diabetes, which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
We can’t stress enough the importance of all types of exercise. If you haven’t exercised for a while, start by walking. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. Talk with your doctor before you pursue any formal exercise program. Continue reading →
There are several skills necessary for “safe driving.” These include a good memory, sequencing skills and the ability to dual task, just to name a few. Unfortunately, these cognitive abilities are also the ones most affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias.
Before deciding if a person is no longer a safe driver, it’s important to watch for some of the following signs:
Difficulty navigating familiar places, changing lanes, or making turns
Slowing down driving speed dramatically when having a conversation
For up to one in five Americans over age 65, getting older brings memory and thinking problems– along with the embarrassment of not being as “sharp” as they once were, and the worry that it will get much worse.
They might just call it “getting older”. But officially, when memory or cognitive problems don’t interfere significantly with daily living, doctors call them mild cognitive impairment, or MCI.
What can be done to prevent or slow MCI? And how much should seniors fear that their thinking or memory problems will get much worse?
Well-being is at greater risk for care partners in dementia care primarily because it requires recognizing, identifying and responding to what can be an extremely insidious shift in roles, relationships and responsibilities. Emerging care partners are learning to respond to an illness that cannot be seen while being simultaneously assaulted by the stigma that often comes with a diagnosis of memory loss. Unlike other age-related illness, Alzheimer’s and other related dementias can result in enormous shifts in personal identity, in addition to how a couple and a family function privately and socially. Consider the following suggestions for cultivating well-being while care partnering:
ONE: Use the word care partner more; see how this impacts perception. Adults living with memory loss will thank you for it. You may thank you for it. Continue reading →
“A partner paradigm strengthens our interconnectedness and can bring more awareness to the kindness and support that is right under our nose.”
When do you realize you are a family caregiver? Responses in my experience range from the darkly humorous to the completely visceral, such as: “When my husband started calling me ‘mom.’” Emerging caregivers are often not new to caregiving at all, but rather isolated from the pack. This delays significant steps toward caregiver support and activities that contribute to well-being and caregiver identity, such as joining groups for information, support, stress reduction or counseling. There may also be significant resistance to the word “caregiver” and associated activities. It can feel one-sided and lonely; a loaded word fraught with fear, judgment from friends and comparisons to other family members who may have carried this title in the past.
Emerging as a caregiver can be an uncomfortable and vulnerable time, a trust free-fall. A sense of loss and disappointment is completely natural. Continue reading →
Sami Barmada, M.D., Ph.D., is a scientist, lecturer, and clinician in the University of Michigan Cognitive Disorders Program. He was recently in the news for the discoveries that he made in the laboratory with his colleagues in California and the United Kingdom. Their research findings focused on a protein, TDP43, which accumulates in the brains of individuals with ALS and dementia. We had a chance to sit down with Dr. Barmada to understand more about the connection between ALS, dementia and other related diseases.
You are a clinician in the U-M Cognitive Disorders Program but your research focuses on ALS. Are cognitive disorders related to ALS?
The short answer is yes. Years ago, we believed that ALS was a disorder that only affected movement, Continue reading →
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