What to Look for in Memory Care Communities

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or is faced with another serious memory loss condition, there is a good chance they will require professional memory care services at some point. Finding a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, or “life plan” community) with memory care will make life for the patient, loved ones, and caregivers more comfortable and enjoyable.

Click above to learn what to look for in a memory care community.


Nutrition for Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Dementia is the loss of memory, cognitive reasoning, awareness of environment, judgment, abstract thinking, or the ability to perform activities of daily living. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia that involves slowly developing symptoms that get worse over time. Dementia resulting from vitamin deficiencies, or caused by underlying disease (such as brain tumors and infections) may be reversible. Other forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, are not reversible, and are often treated with medications.

As dementia progresses, changes can occur that may affect someone’s ability to obtain adequate food and nutrients to maintain their health status. Such changes will vary depending on the type of dementia, as well as the stage of the disease. Some of these changes include:

  • Altered sense of smell and/or taste
  • Inability to recognize food or distinguish between food and non-food items
  • Poor appetite
  • Chewing difficulties (pocketing food, repetitive chewing, etc.)
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Forgetting to eat
  • Shortened attention span leading to a loss of interest in eating
  • Difficulty using eating utensils
  • Increase in pacing or walking
  • Drug side effects

The symptoms of dementia vary, and the treatment and nutrition care should be determined by these symptoms. Some techniques to consider for continued delivery of food and nutrition include:

  • Provide kind reminders to eat.
  • Provide meals in a low stress environment, minimizing noise and visual
  • distractions.
  • Develop a meal routine that can be repeated over time, to provide meals at
  • similar times, or even similar meals every day.
  • Have someone eat with the individual to provide assistance and reminders
  • on how to eat.
  • Have family join the individual at meal times to encourage eating.
  • Pay attention to other health issues, such as infections, fevers, injuries, or
  • other illnesses, as these may increase food and fluid needs.
  • Provide well-liked food and drinks to encourage eating.
  • Limit the amount of food served at one time so as not to overwhelm.

Provide finger-type foods for individuals struggling to use utensils:

  • Hamburgers
  • French fries
  • Carrot sticks

Check with a dietitian or doctor for any specific dietary needs.


Memory Matters

As I sat listening to Mr. A work his brain out, on the Dakim BrainFitness machine, he turned to me and said, “You know your memory is a very important thing. You will see so much in this life and your memory keeps track of it all.” I pondered this for a moment. He’s right. Every important event, face, and activity is all stored in my memory. Could you imagine losing it all?

Unfortunately, a decline in memory is a reality with age. As people age, their ability to remember often declines, even if they don’t suffer from dementia or another mental illness. This could be due to many factors including:

  1. The shrinking of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a small organ in the brain that is involved in memory, especially long-term memory.
  2. The repair process declines. Brain cells often need repaired but, the hormones that repair them decline with age. This could lead to fewer functioning brain cells and an impaired memory.
  3. A decline in blood flow to the brain is also common with age. This can impair memory but, it can also affect cognitive skills such as reading.

Luckily, progress has been made to prevent these changes. In a clinical trial conducted by the UCLA School of Medicine, Dakim BrainFitness was shown to significantly improve the two most important cognitive functions — memory and language abilities — and users strengthened attention, focus, and concentration.

And let me tell you, it works for Mr. A! As he and I continued our conversation, he sang his favorite song (Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue, 1925), recited a bible verse starting with every letter of the alphabet, and told me vivid, detailed stories from when he was a teacher.

Our residents have fun working on the Dakim BrianFitness machines and they keep their memory in tip-top shape! We are proud to have some of the few machines in Ohio.

Resources: apa.org, helpguide.org, ucla.edu


How to Deal with Your Parent’s Memory Loss

When a family members memory fades, it can be very difficult for you to cope. But, with these tips, you may find peace with your parent’s condition. They may help to keep the bond that you are longing for.

Don’t expect them to fulfill promises.

If you tell them to do something, or better yet, not to do something, they may not remember this information. Be sure to lower your expectations of what they are capable of, now that they have been diagnosed with this disease.

Don’t argue with them.

No matter how logical your argument, they may not understand. For example, if you are at the park and they insist that they want to go to the park, try taking them to a park down the road instead of arguing that you are already there.

Remember, it’s the disease.

Patience is key. Keep in mind that it is something your loved one doesn’t have control over. Remembering this will make it easier to face some of the challenges that may present themselves.

Talk to their doctor about their condition.

In order to give them the best care, talk to their doctor. It may be safer for your loved one to live in a memory care unit. Where they are secure. Depending on the type, and severity of the memory loss there may be medical interventions that can be used too.

Take care of yourself.

Taking care of yourself is so important when dealing with any stressful situation, especially when it pertains to a loved one. Take a hot bath or read a book to unwind. It may help you to get your mind off everything for a bit.

Memory loss can be hard for everyone involved. What tips do you have for families struggling with memory loss?


Fun Ways for Seniors to Exercise Their Brain

You have probably heard this said about the brain, “If you don’t use it you lose it.” That’s why it’s important to exercise the brain, especially as someone grows older. An active brain is a healthy brain. For that reason, you should engage older adults in activities that give their brain a regular workout. There are a lot of activities that can keep the brain healthy and active. Here are a few:

Conversation

One of the simplest ways of keeping the brain working is through good conversation. Everyone enjoys sharing their stories. You can ask questions that motivate them to recall events and experiences. During the conversation, it’s important to ask open-ended questions such as “tell me about the most interesting place you have visited,” to encourage the individual to think back on past events and share details.

Games

Another tip for exercising the brain is to play board games or card games. Games require people to concentrate and think about winning strategies. It’s best to ask what games he or she enjoys. A familiar game or one that does not frustrate them will be most helpful.

Puzzles

Crossword puzzles and word searches are excellent activities for brain exercise. Make it interesting by asking them if they would enjoy it more if the activity were timed. For example, you might give him or her five minutes to find five words in a word search.

Music

Music listening is also a good brain exercise. In fact, research suggests that when babies listen to classical music it aids in brain development. For older adults, music may uplift the mood and help them relax, especially when a song is familiar and brings back positive memories.

What are your tips to maintain a healthy brain?


Healthy Foods to Help Get Your Mind Working

Everyone has days here and there when they simply cannot seem to concentrate, and although no magic formula exists to help individuals retain cognitive powers as they age, certain foods have been proven to increase brain function in senior citizens. Below are four top healthy foods that studies show protect against age-related cognitive decline.

Wild Blueberries

Phytochemicals and other antioxidants in wild blueberries have been linked to memory, thinking and learning improvements. In addition, they have been proven to slow neurodegenerative oxidative stress, which is linked to the natural brain shrinkage that occurs as people age. Due to their high levels of anthocyanins, wild blueberries also may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Turmeric

Turmeric is a yellow-colored spice found in curry. It contains an anti-inflammatory agent known as curcumin. Because curcumin crosses the blood-brain barrier, its neuroprotective benefits are very potent and combat a broad range of age-related neurological disorders.

Walnuts

Walnuts are another great choice for seniors concerned with maintaining a healthy mind. Similar to turmeric, walnuts contain many neuroprotective compounds, as well as numerous brain protecting antioxidants. Studies have proven that seniors who consume walnuts on a regular basis have better mental reflexes and can problem solve at a more efficient rate than those who shun this food.

Celery

Among other healthy foods for seniors, celery makes the list of foods that are not only great for the mind, but also serve as healthy, low-calorie snacks. Celery contains large amounts of a substance called luteolin. Luteolin is a plant compound that research suggests has a calming influence on brain inflammation. Such inflammation is a primary cause of neural degeneration, which can lead to old-age dementia, general cognitive decline or specific diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  Luteolin is also a great memory booster, and has been linked to a lower rate of memory loss in mature laboratory mice.

Fortunately, all the foods mentioned above are easy to implement in one’s diet. If you have an elderly relative with concerns about maintaining a healthy mind, encourage your senior to add such foods to his or her diet on a regular basis.


Keep Your Brain Healthy with These Tips

As you age, it is important to maintain your health. Besides keeping weight and cholesterol at their proper levels, it is vital to preserve your mind as well. Like muscles, the brain must be exercised so that Alzheimer’s and similar conditions are kept at bay. Below are some tips to help maintain a healthy brain.

Take a Walk

Your brain requires circulation so that oxygen levels remain high. Any type of aerobic exercise will help increase blood flow. For many seniors, taking a walk should supply enough exercise to keep the mind fit, rather than more taxing aerobic exercises.

Eat Properly

Scientific studies have suggested that a diet filled with high protein and low fat decreases the odds of suffering from dementia.  Fatty foods may raise the chances of developing blood clots and other conditions that could lead to Alzheimer’s. Also, it is wise to eat fish at least once a week. Certain seafood contains omega-3 fatty acids, which may help with memory loss due to aging.

Social Activity

Interacting with others is a wonderful way to maintain cognitive abilities. It is vital to remain social with friends and family. Seniors should consider joining a hobby club or volunteering with an organization that provides social interaction. Simple conversations keep the brain active and can guard against dementia.

Brain Games

To maintain brain health, many experts advise breaking out the board games and paper crossword puzzles. These types of games are considered better than technological games. They require strategy, which keeps the brain active and sharp.

At Wesley Ridge Retirement Community, we take pride in offering stimulation that preserves brain health. Families gain peace of mind knowing their loved ones are receiving the best care and attention possible. We provide a variety of activities and recreational opportunities that keep cognition at high levels. For more information, call 614-328-5597.


Common Types of Memory Lapses

It’s normal to forget things from time to time, and it’s normal to become somewhat forgetful as we age.  But how much forgetfulness is too much?  How can you tell if your memory lapses are part of the aging process, or if they are a symptom of something more serious?

We’ve all misplaced keys, blanked on an acquaintance’s name, or forgotten a phone number. When we’re young, we do not pay attention to these lapses, but as we age, sometimes we worry about what they mean.  While it’s true that certain brain changes are inevitable when it comes to aging, major memory problems are not one of them.  That’s why it’s important to know the differences between normal age-related forgetfulness and the symptoms that may indicate a developing cognitive problem.

People with some forgetfulness can use a variety of techniques that may help them stay healthy and maintain their memory and mental skills.  Here are some tips:

  • Plan tasks, make “to do” lists, and use memory aids, like notes and calendars. Some people find they remember things better if they mentally connect them to other meaningful things, such as a familiar name, song, book or TV show.
  • Develop interests or hobbies and stay involved in activities that can help the mind and body.
  • Engage in physical activity and exercise. Several studies have associated exercise (such as walking) with better brain function, although more research is needed to say for sure whether exercise can help to maintain brain function or prevent or delay symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
  • Limit alcohol use. Although some studies suggest that moderate alcohol use has health benefits, heavy or binge drinking over time can cause memory loss and permanent brain damage.
  • Find activities, such as exercise or a hobby, to relieve feelings of stress, anxiety or depression. If these feelings last for a long time, talk with your doctor.

If you’re concerned that you or someone you know has a serious memory problem, talk with your doctor.  He or she may be able to diagnose the problem or refer you to a specialist, such as a neurologist or geriatric psychiatrist.  When it comes to memory, it’s “use it or lose it.”  Just as physical exercise can make and keep your body stronger, mental exercise can make your brain work better and lower risks of mental decline.


Keep Your Brain Healthy

Can Alzheimer’s disease be prevented? Researchers across the world are racing towards a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. But as prevalence rates climb, the focus has broadened from treatment to prevention strategies. What they’ve discovered is that it may be possible to prevent or delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias through a combination of healthy habits. Most causes of dementia are not preventable. However, many drug companies, foundations, and non-profit organizations are all actively researching ways to slow, delay, and prevent dementia. Many are particularly focused on Alzheimer’s disease.

Vascular dementia is caused by a series of small strokes. There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of stroke. If you smoke, quit. If you have high blood pressure and/or diabetes, talk with your doctor about getting those under control. Many studies strongly suggest that a low-fat diet and regular exercise may also reduce the risk of vascular dementia.

Some conditions mimic dementia or have dementia-like systems. Those include changes in blood sugar, sodium and calcium, as well as low vitamin B-12 levels. If caught early, these may be treatable. If you have symptoms, don’t delay seeing your doctor.

Diet
Evidence suggests that eating a Mediterranean diet may decrease your risk of developing AD. A Mediterranean diet consists of little red meat and large amounts of the following:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Nuts, olive oil, and other healthy fats

Social Engagement
Research suggests that seniors who spend most of their time in their home environment are almost twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as those who travel out of town. It is unclear whether better health results in more travel or more travel results in better health.

Raise Your C Level
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, essential for healthy skin and blood vessel functioning, but some studies suggest it may also protect against dementia-related brain plaque. Oranges, limes and lemons are a convenient source of ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C), as are sweet peppers, strawberries, cantaloupe, tomatoes, broccoli and leafy greens.

Get Full of Beans
Beans and green peas provide a rich source of B-complex vitamins, which may play a role in protecting against brain shrinkage, as well as in maintaining blood sugar levels and a healthy nervous system. Vitamin B-1 (thiamine and folic acid) is also found in enriched grain products and cereals.

Get Some Sun
New research suggests that adults with low levels of vitamin D may have a higher risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s or other cognitive problems. Exposing your sunscreen-free face, back, arms or legs to no more than 10-15 minutes of sunshine a few times a week could boost D levels.

Get Plenty of Omega-3 Fats
Evidence suggests that the DHA found in omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by reducing beta-amyloid plaques. Food sources include cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, and sardines. You can also supplement with fish oil.

Learn Something New
Study a foreign language, learn sign language, practice a musical instrument, read the newspaper or a good book, or take up a new hobby. The greater the novelty and challenge, the larger the deposit in your brain reserves.

Establish a Regular Sleep Schedule
Going to bed and getting up at the same time reinforces your natural circadian rhythms, your brain’s clock response to regularity.

There’s less of a separation between brain and body than you might think. As mentioned above, what’s good for the body — like sleep, exercise, and nutritious food — is also good for the brain. And that also means that the converse is true: things that are bad for the body are also damaging to the brain. You owe it to yourself to work with your body to keep your brain healthy.


Take Our Memory Quiz

It has happened to all of us — we forget where we put our car keys, we are talking and forget what we are saying mid-sentence or we see someone we know, but can’t for the life of it remember his or her name. We joke and say “oh.. just a sign of old age.” Or is it?

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and a great time to test our memory skills. Did you know that women are twice as likely to get Alzheimer’s versus men? Doctors assume it is because they live longer, but recent research suggests that biological differences may be the reason that women are at higher risk than men. In fact, one study from Duke University linked hormonal or genetic factors to increased memory loss.

While some instances of early onset Alzheimer’s has occurred in people as young as 50 years of age, the average age for increased memory challenges usually hits around 60. If you have noticed some instances where your memory appears “off,” you are not alone. On October 27th, AARP announced the formation of the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) to bring together doctors, scientists, and leaders in academia and policy experts from all over the world to better inform people how to keep their brains healthy.

Below are ten questions crafted by brain health experts. This test is not meant to be diagnostic. If you have concerns, however, it is always a good idea to talk with your family physician. Each question should be answered with a “Yes” or ” No.”

1) Your kids or grandchildren show up for Sunday dinner—-and you completely forgot they were coming.

2) You run into a friend and start to ask about his daughter, but can’t remember her name–until later.

3) You sometimes look in the mirror and do not recognize yourself.

4) You always miss the turn on the road to your grandkids’ regular soccer field.

5) You find your glasses in the freezer, your watch in the sink or other objects in weird places.

6) Your friend told you some great news about his wife’s new job. You were certain he told you at lunch, but it turns out he told you over the phone.

7) You’ve always been a pro at budgeting expenses, but now your bills/checking account are a complete mess.

8) You made a doctor’s appointment months ago, but completely forgot to go.

9) Your spouse or partner tells you that you repeatedly ask the same questions.

10) Your mother recently passed away. You’re having trouble sorting through all of the papers.

Quiz Results:

If you answered YES to questions 2,4,6, 8 or 10, you are either showing signs of normal memory loss due to aging or another factor (stress, grief, lack of sleep) may be affecting it.

If you answered YES to questions 1,3,5, 7 or 9, trouble recognizing everyday objects, putting common things in unusual places or repeating the same question within an hour, these may be the warning signs of some serious memory loss. Family members are often the first to notice symptoms, so be open and listen to their concerns. And talk to your doctor about having your memory checked.

If you answered NO to all questions? That is amazing. Whatever you are doing is contributing to great brain health. Keep it up!


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Testimonials & Review

My Husband and I had a great expierence when taking our tour with Fanny. She was a pure delight and she made us feel very confortable with her and the facility. She was very informative and answered all of our questions for us. I really enjoyed speaking with her and enjoyed her great personality during our tour.

- Nancy Gallop