Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Irving Weekly Title

Health News

Brain Health Awareness Month: Tips for Reducing Dementia and Alzheimer Risk and Supporting Caregivers

Photo by Anna Shvets

During Brain Health Awareness Month in June, experts at Parkland Health are sharing valuable tips to lower the risk of developing dementia and strategies to assist caregivers of dementia patients.

Alzheimer's disease, the most common type of dementia, progressively destroys memory and thinking skills, eventually impacting the ability to perform simple tasks. According to the CDC, about 5.8 million Americans have Alzheimer's or related dementias, with minorities and women at higher risk. Hispanic and Black Americans are projected to see the largest increases in diagnoses through 2060.

“People diagnosed with dementia may act and speak normally one moment and be disoriented or confused the next,” said Dr. Raja Paspula, Medical Director of Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC) and a Geriatrician at Parkland Geriatric Center. “It can be difficult for families and caregivers because the disease makes people behave unpredictably.”

While age and genetics significantly influence Alzheimer's disease, certain lifestyle choices can help maintain brain health and reduce cognitive decline risk. Dr. Paspula offers these tips:

  1. Engage in Mental Stimulation: Activities like reading, puzzles, learning new skills, or engaging in intellectually stimulating conversations help maintain cognitive function.
  2. Eat a Balanced Diet: A nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats supports brain health. Foods high in antioxidants, such as berries and leafy greens, combat brain inflammation.
  3. Stay Physically Active: Regular exercise benefits physical health and cognitive well-being. Combine aerobic exercises, strength training, and flexibility exercises to enhance blood flow to the brain and promote new brain cell growth.
  4. Prioritize Quality Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night and establish a consistent sleep schedule to support brain function and memory consolidation.
  5. Maintain Social Connections: Social interaction and meaningful relationships are linked to better cognitive health and reduced Alzheimer's risk. Stay connected with friends, family, and community groups.
  6. Manage Stress: Practice stress-reduction techniques like mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, walking, or engaging in hobbies that promote relaxation.

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's can be challenging. Here are ways for caregivers to provide support while taking care of themselves:

  1. Educate Yourself: Learn about Alzheimer's or dementia, including symptoms, progression, and available resources. Understanding the condition helps provide better care.
  2. Establish Routine: A consistent daily routine provides stability and reduces anxiety. Set regular times for meals, medication, and activities.
  3. Practice Patience and Compassion: Communicating with someone who has Alzheimer's requires extra patience and understanding. Repeat yourself, listen attentively, and validate their feelings.
  4. Simplify Tasks: Break tasks into small, manageable steps. Use visual cues, prompts, and gentle reminders for daily activities like dressing, grooming, and eating.
  5. Ensure Safety: Create a safe environment by removing potential hazards and employing safety measures such as installing handrails and securing rugs.
  6. Seek Support: Don't hesitate to ask for help. Join a support group for caregivers or seek professional counseling. Reach out to family, friends, or community organizations for assistance with caregiving responsibilities and prioritize your own health needs.

You May Also Like