On a regular basis a new story makes headlines for its benefits in improving or preserving memory. The latest is based on a study at Harvard University published in the Journal Neurology. The research indicates that two cups of hot chocolate a day can improve mental performance in seniors.
Many senior experts appreciate the ongoing attention and research toward preserving memory, but also caution that the best approach involves ongoing positive efforts not simply following the latest fad or headline. Bob Tucker, a senior advocate with Senior Helpers Chicagoland North in Northfield, understands this from a very personal place. His father lived with dementia and although he understands that there may be a genetic component, Bob is focused on living life fully. “We all should feel that we want to do as much as we can to impact the quality of life. Is it a guarantee, no, but I want to get as much of the odds in my favor as I can.”
Tucker, and Senior Helpers, work closely with the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. He encourages clients with family members with dementia to follow his lead and try to focus on five areas that have been proven to improve quality of life. “There are five things that the Alzheimer’s Foundation has listed as things we all can do to help promote a healthy brain life,” shares Tucker. “They are: Socialization, Physical Activity, Mental Stimulation, Spirituality and Nutrition.”
The Alzheimer’s Foundation provides concrete suggestions on their website including: Daily Exercise such as a 30-minute walk daily, “Physical activity significantly lessens the chance of cardiovascular complications that could cause dementia.” Other suggestions include seniors doing crossword puzzles, reading or playing bridge - participating in activities that stimulate the brain; following a healthy diet, including appropriate use of vitamins and a limit in the use of alcohol. “Alcohol has a direct toxic effect on the brain that adds to the loss of nerve cells and synapses.”
The Alzheimer’s Foundation website encourages anyone looking to make changes by saying “The key to successful aging is a healthy, common sense lifestyle. The goals are to slow or prevent the loss of brain cells, maintain the brain’s capacity to make up for any loss, and let remaining brain cells function well.”
There are more suggestions on the Alzheimer’s Foundation website www.alzfdn.org or at a library maintained by Senior Helpers of Chicagoland, which can be accessed by the community by calling 847-564-7500 or on their website www.seniorhelpers.com/chicagolandnorth.
Lenna Scott is the Regional Director of Business Development for Legacy Healthcare, a company that provides rehabilitation and skilled nursing care in comfortable, high quality, community-based settings throughout Illinois and Ohio. She lives in Buffalo Grove with her husband and two children. If you have an idea for a future column, contact her at email@example.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @LennaScott