Friday, June 9, 2017

Brain changes of Alzheimer's and some other dementias begin decades before symptoms appear

"While certain steps may help change the progression or pathologies of dementia, an earlier start most likely means better results."

20 minutes a day (10 minutes 2-3 times a day, though more is better) of aerobic activity has been shown to increase hippocampal volume. The hippocampus is where Alzheimer’s starts, so added volume there is a big plus. 

Meditate/Manage Stress:
Research has shown that meditative practices (mindfulness meditation, Yoga, etc.) practiced for even just a few minutes a day can increase blood flow throughout the brain, particularly in the all-important hippocampus. In addition, meditators showed decreases in blood pressure and stress hormones. 

Watch Your Diet:
A healthy heart and a healthy mind are very closely related. A Mediterranean diet featuring lots of fish, lean proteins, fresh vegetables and olive oil is a good start, and avoiding excessive amounts of saturated fats, salt, dairy, fatty meats and fried foods helps all the more. 

Learn New Things:
'Use it or lose it' is a very appropriate term for brain fitness. Learning new skills or picking up an additional language helps create more connections within the brain, creating a “cognitive reserve” to help in the event of dementia. While crossword puzzles may be somewhat helpful, recent research has shown that they may not be as effective as previously thought. 

Join a Group:
Social connections are rapidly rising through the ranks of what’s important to maintain brain health. Activities undertaken with others, be they gatherings, church or even just regular outings with friends, may help keep your brain happier and healthier. Volunteering and other meaningful forms of interaction have shown to produce even greater benefits.

“Always consult your doctor about changes to your exercise routine and diet. For details on recent brain health studies and how they relate to Silverado, please visit our Nexus Clinical References page. 

“Alzheimer’s begins causing damage to the brain many years before symptoms become apparent. The brain has literally billions of neurons that form a network capable of 100 trillion connections. By the time enough connections have degraded and symptoms are apparent, there are some clear signs that indicate a person is experiencing Alzheimer’s and not just brain changes that come with normal aging. 

“The following list covers common symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (though some also apply to other dementias). Individuals who exhibit several of these warning signs should see a physician for a complete examination.

  1. Memory lapses that disrupt daily life – Forgetting newly-learned information and important dates or events; increased reliance on other people or memory implements to function
  2. Problem solving and planning difficulties – Issues with concentration and familiar multi-step processes like recipes or paying bills; simple tasks may take much longer than before
  3. Difficulty carrying out familiar tasks - Trouble driving to a known destination, managing a budget or remembering how a favorite game is played
  4. Locational/temporal confusion - Losing track of dates and passage of time; trouble understanding things planned for later; forgetting where they are or how they got there.
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships - Vision problems; difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color/contrast
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing - Trouble with conversation, like losing track and not knowing how to continue; repeating themselves; problems finding the right word or referring to things by the wrong name
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps - Placing things in unusual locations; inability to retrace steps to find lost items; accusations of stealing to those around them
  8. Decreased or poor judgment - Poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers; paying less attention to grooming and personal cleanliness
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities – Pulling away from social activities, interests, large groups, sports and hobbies; trouble remembering how to participate in favorite pastimes; may seem introverted
  10. Changes in mood and personality - Becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious; may be easily upset in places where they are out of their comfort zone”

Silverado: Dementia Resources

For 17 more articles about Alzheimer's, click here.

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