Ten Tips to Fight Off Dementia

Dementia is a dreaded disease that science has yet to find a cure and can affect people as early as their 50s, though most sufferers are over 65 when symptoms first appear. Dementia includes Alzheimer’s Disease, which accounts for 50% to 80% of all dementia cases, or any other condition where your mental faculties decline. Symptoms include problems with language, recognition of family and friends, memory loss, and slowed thinking. Some people hallucinate or believe they are talking to long dead family members.

Sufferers need assistance with areas of daily living activities that can often prove extremely frustrating and burdensome to those tasked with helping them. But although the disease is thus far incurable, there are things you can do for yourself or a loved one who is showing signs of dementia that can slow its progression. Although some of these tips may appear unorthodox, there are studies that back them up:

1.  Do crossword puzzles. Though not for everyone, there are puzzles that are challenging on all levels. A study of 17,000 people conducted by researchers at the University of Exeter found that persons who regularly tackle crossword puzzles had brains that were 10-years younger than their biological age.

2.  Take a sauna. Although no clear rationale has been found for this practice that seems to reduce the risk of contracting Alzheimer’s, Finnish researchers reported that men who took saunas daily were 66% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those who took a sauna only once per week.

3.  Get your sleep. Many studies have emphasized the importance of sleep in avoiding amyloid plague accumulation, a condition linked to dementia.

4.  Exercise regularly. Many researchers want us to engage in 150 minutes each week of moderate exercise that can be combined with vigorous activity. If not possible because of physical limitations, then try 30-minutes of moderate exercise 3 times per week. Exercise has been found to be a factor in maintaining cognitive function.

This can include brisk walking on a treadmill or elliptical if not done outdoors, swimming, bicycling, or jogging so long as your heart rate is increased. Some studies have found that exercise stimulates brain metabolism by preventing an increase in choline, a nutrient that increases when nerve cells are lost, usually in Alzheimer’s patients.

Do not start an exercise routine without first consulting with your doctor, especially if it has been years since you exercised on a regular basis.

5.  Meditation. Read up or find a group, such as a yoga class, that practices meditation. Research from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston reported that this activity slows the onset of Alzheimer’s.

6.  Cook and bake. Do this with your loved one who has shown symptoms of dementia.

7.  Find a favorite hobby or activity. Be sure you or your loved one engages regularly in a favorite hobby or activity such as playing bridge. This can also be as simple as knitting or tending a garden, painting, or doing woodwork. Don’t be concerned about the results. It’s the activity that engages the brain that is essential.

8.  Eat a balanced and healthy diet. Cut down on sugar as well as saturated fats like bacon, cheese, red meat, and fried foods. Include more fish, poultry, vegetables and fruit in your diet. This reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and dementia.

9.  Keep alcohol consumption to reasonable levels. Alcohol use is a problem among seniors who often suffer from depression and boredom. Keep your consumption to no more than 2 drinks per day or 14 per week. This does not mean large glasses of wine or double shots of vodka or gin as a single drink. If this is a struggle, then talk to your doctor about ways to control your drinking or that of a loved one. If your parent has a social worker or geriatric care manager, talk to them about programs.

10.  Singing or Dancing. One study seemed to indicate that persons exhibiting symptoms of dementia who engaged in singing or dancing, especially to show tunes, reported a significant improvement in mental performance than those who only listened to the music. This applied even to patients who were in fairly advanced stages of dementia. Singing and dancing appears to stimulate more activity in the left side of the brain, the side that controls tasks involving language skills, comprehension, logic, and scientific skills.

Consult Elder Law Lawyer Patricia Bloom-McDonald

If you, or a parent, or sibling are exhibiting signs of dementia, you should consider talking to elder law lawyer Patricia Bloom-McDonald. There are activities that can slow the process or even improve cognitive function to some degree but you should be prepared for certain consequences that come with dementia that can affect your health and financial affairs. This includes drafting health care directives, granting a durable power of attorney for financial matters, drafting a Last Will and Testament, or establishing a trust, preparing for entering an assisted or nursing home facility, dealing with insurance and public benefits, and other issues.

Call Attorney Patricia Bloom-McDonald today to schedule a complimentary consultation on how she can help with your estate planning needs and how to deal with the issues revolving around dementia, the sooner the better.  Once you, or a parent, or sibling are exhibiting signs of dementia and have been medically diagnosed, the legal capacity to sign legal documents is no longer possible and then the Courts will decide!

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