According to a recent report by the Alzheimer’s Association, by ages 85 and over, about one-third of adults are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. When you take into account how Alzheimer’s affects families, in addition to the impact on direct caregivers, the number of people whose lives are changed by a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is even larger. However, there are proven ways to slow the disease’s impacts.
The CDC estimates that each year over 16 million people in the U.S. provide family and friends with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia with over 17 billion hours of unpaid care. Even beyond caregiving—which is widely known to be a valuable, demanding, and emotionally taxing responsibility—Alzheimer’s disease can have a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of family members in some of the following ways:
12.7 million people are projected to have Alzheimer’s disease by 2050, and the odds of receiving a diagnosis increases with age. This raises questions about how to stay healthier longer and how to slow the progression of the disease after a diagnosis.
There are some steps every older adult living with the possibility or reality of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can take to mitigate symptoms and stay healthy longer.
Puzzles, learning, and new ideas help stretch your memory muscles and keep your brain active, improving overall function. Keep engaging in activities that challenge you to think in new ways, whether that’s through formal education, learning a new skill, or reading challenging books.
Exercise can have a double benefit when it comes to slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease or the symptoms of dementia. Nearly any exercise will get blood flowing to your brain, which is important, but exercises that require learning and then repeating movements—like dancing, group fitness classes, or martial arts—further increase the capacity of your brain when it comes to memory. If you’re new to regular exercise, there are many tips available to help you get started.
What we eat has a direct impact on health—including brain health. When it comes to preventing or slowing cognitive decline related to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, the MIND diet has a significant impact on slowing cognitive decline and boosting memory. Even if you aren’t able to stick to it 100%, changing just one or two habits to fit into the MIND diet, like eating plenty of leafy greens and limiting fried foods, can have an impact.
Sleep is a vital part of physical health, and that includes your brain. Those who sleep five or fewer hours per night are not only more likely to develop dementia but are also more likely to suffer more negative outcomes. Simply practicing good sleep hygiene, so you get between 6 to 8 hours per night can help keep you or a loved one live healthier longer.
It’s no secret that staying connected socially has huge benefits throughout life and especially as we age. But it can also help before and after an Alzheimer’s disease or dementia diagnosis. As little as one hour per week of social activity can have a meaningful impact. And socializing on a walk, by doing art, or through volunteering can check several boxes for brain health at once.
Last but not least, if you or a loved one is dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, listen to your doctors. That means managing and taking medications appropriately, treating any coexisting conditions, and making sure your full medical team has all of the information they need to provide the best care possible.
As retirement nears and the time approaches to make decisions on what comes next, choosing the right path may seem daunting. However, living in a continuing care retirement community can promote many healthy choices that can improve our odds for a healthy, active, independent future. If life takes an unexpected turn, we’re here for you! Choosing a life plan community like Homestead Village means the right care at the right time without having to move and disrupt your lifestyle at the time of a crisis. In addition, Homestead Village offers the activities, connections, and socialization that are so critical to maintaining memory and brain function.
If a resident needs memory care, Homestead Village’s Harvest House and Gelhard House are secure memory support households that provide personal care services. Advanced skilled nursing care can also be provided in our Apostles Center for Care. Our staff are trained in the teachings of professionals like Teepa Snow to build trust and communication with residents who live with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Programs such as Music and Memory bring joy to residents through music that is familiar to them.
If you’re interested in seeing what Homestead Village has to offer, contact us today, or take a look at our newest expansion with the Townstead apartments. This living opinion is perfect for couples with differing care needs as our apartments are dual-licensed for personal care.
Family members are faced with mental, physical, financial, and interpersonal conflicts, alongside grief.
Fully one-third of adults over the age of 85 have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Eat right, exercise, socialize, keep learning, work with your doctor and prioritize sleep.
Continue care retirement communities like Homestead Village provide a range of care options for each stage of aging.