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Nova Scotia Seniors: Living with Alzheimer’s

Posted Sep 07, 2016

According to Alzheimer’s Nova Scotia, there are 564,000 Canadians currently living with dementia. The same site, estimates that 937,000 Canadians will be living with the disease in the next 15 years.

Alzheimer’s Nova Scotia describes, “Dementia is an overall term for a set of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Symptoms may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language, severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. A person with dementia may also experience changes in mood or behaviour.”

Although, there are no proven methods of reversing dementia after a diagnosis, there are ways that we can boost our brain health. By making healthy lifestyle choices that support mental health, we increase our long-term health while also increasing our body’s ability to ward off illness. So, although there are no guarantees, supporting one of our most vital organs early on is a step in the direction of healthy-aging.

Here are some tips that we’ve picked up talking to health professionals, online and from people in our community:

Maintaining Physical Health:

– Physical activity gets blood pumping, and oxygen flowing to your brain.

– Obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes are often associated with cognitive decline.

– Getting enough sleep, and having regular sleep cycles ensure your brain has time to properly rest and reset.

Proper Nutrition:

– Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids build brain cell membranes, reduce brain inflammation, and promote new brain cell formation. (Fish, nuts, olive oil, avocados and seeds are good sources of these omega-3 fatty acids).

– Daily servings of fruits and veggies support general health and wellness. Fruits and veggies are our most natural and nourishing sources of the nutrients our body’s need to function.

– Using herbs like: Ginkgo, Bacopa and Gotu Kola increase blood flow to the brain, enhance memory and flush metabolic waste. (*Talk to your doctor about medication combining, and consult an herbalist to see which herbs may be right for you).

Increasing Cognitive Activity:

– Use logic exercises to challenge yourself, (Sudukos, Crosswords, Puzzles, etc.)

– Learning a new language, or a new instrument can create new neural pathways in your brain.

– Taking a course, or increasing your education can be compared to keeping updated with the latest software available.

– Pursuing meaningful work, even after retirement can keep you active, moving and give a sense of purpose. Even though we often look forward to the easy life after retirement, our brains need to be challenged and feel useful even in our downtime.

Reducing Risks:

– Reduce your daily stress! Meditation, breathing exercises, removing ourselves from high stress environments… these techniques can offer our stressed out brains a break from the high energy tension. Prolonged stress can be damaging to our nervous system, and our brains ability to think clearly.

– By quitting smoking, we allow free oxygen to enter into our blood stream, which makes its way to the brain.

– Elimination refined sugars and foods, high saturated fat foods, and highly processed foods from your diet.

Seek Out Social Engagements:

– Reducing alone time can work wonders! Loneliness is often a precursor to depression, which can be damaging to the brain. Keeping up regular conversation, and a sense of purpose amongst loved ones makes a happy brain.

– Make weekly engagements to reinforce routine, and get you out and about on a weekly basis.

– Spending time outside of your usual environment – try something new!

– Spend time with people and things that make you laugh.

– Sharing memories is a good way to get the memory jogging, and to bond with loved ones.

 

Looking for more information? Check out these great resources:

Alzheimer’s Nova Scotia: http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/ns/About-dementia

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: http://bebrainfit.com/omega-3-benefits-brain/

Blue Apples Natural Products, Daniel Wiseman, Herbalist: http://blue-apples.org/#/home

Increasing Neural Pathways: http://www.whatisneuroplasticity.com/pathways.php