Many factors may influence your risk of dementia, including your genes, environment, and lifestyle. You can’t change some factors, but as with many diseases, there may be steps you can take to help lower your risk of dementia. Consider incorporating these healthy behaviors into your lifestyle:
Eat a healthy diet. Aim for a mix of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and seafood, unsaturated fats such as olive oil, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products. Try to limit other fats and sugars.
Stay mentally active. Participate in activities that can help keep your mind active, including reading, taking up a new hobby, learning a new skill, working or volunteering, and socializing.
Take care of your mental and physical health. This includes getting your recommended health screenings, managing chronic health issues such as depression or high cholesterol, and regularly checking in with a health care provider.
Connect with family and friends. Connecting with people and engaging in social activities can prevent social isolation and loneliness, which are linked to higher risks for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
A decline in sense of smell is connected to faster buildup of Alzheimer’s disease-related pathology seen in brain scans, according to new research by NIA scientists. This study focused on older adults who live outside of nursing homes; specifically, 364 participants from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), over an average period of about two and a half years. The NIA-led BLSA is the longest running study of healthy aging in America.
The research provided more evidence that loss of smell (known as anosmia) is a key early sign of Alzheimer’s-related cognitive impairment and is linked to the accumulation of associated proteins, such as beta-amyloid and tau. Researchers hope to look deeper into whether sense of smell can predict other types of dementia-related neurodegenerative changes.
Caring for an older family member often requires teamwork. A primary caregiver — especially a parent — may be hesitant to ask for help or a break. A few ways you can help are:
Provide emotional and moral support. Acknowledge how important the caregiver has been and discuss the physical and emotional effects of caregiving. Just listening may not sound like much help, but often it is.
Offer to arrange for respite care. Respite care will give your parent a break from caregiving responsibilities and an opportunity to care for themselves.
Help coordinate a move to assisted living or a nursing home. In time, the person receiving care may have to move to a residential facility. If that happens, you can help your parent by selecting a facility that fits everybody’s needs.
Pain is a signal that something may be wrong in your body. You’ve probably been in pain at one time or another but found that it often goes away as the body heals or with treatment. However, many older people may have ongoing pain from health problems like arthritis, diabetes, shingles, or cancer. A few things you can do to help manage your pain and feel better are:
Keep a healthy weight. Being overweight can slow healing and make some pain worse. A healthy weight might help with pain in the knees, back, hips, or feet.
Be physically active. Pain might make you inactive, which can lead to more pain and loss of function. Activity can help.
Get enough sleep. It can reduce pain sensitivity, help healing, and improve your mood.
It’s important to understand what is and isn’t a normal part of aging. Many people make assumptions about what it’s like to grow “old” and how older age will affect them. Research has shown that you can help preserve your health and mobility as you age by adopting or continuing healthy habits and lifestyle choices. A few common myths about aging are:
The older I get, the less sleep I need. Older adults need the same amount of sleep as all adults — seven to nine hours each night.
Only women need to worry about osteoporosis. Although osteoporosis is more common in women, this disease still affects many men and could be underdiagnosed.
It’s inevitable that older people will get dementia. Dementia isn’t a normal part of aging. Although the risk of dementia grows as people get older, it’s not inevitable, and many people live into their 90s and beyond without the significant declines in thinking and behavior that characterize dementia.
AgeGuide is thrilled to announce the return of its Senior LifeStyle Expo live and in-person! The two-day event will take place August 23 & 24 at the Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace, IL., from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Attendees can expect to find loads of information from educational seminars, wellness screenings and technology demonstrations to name a few. For more information, visit the Senior LifeStyle Expo website.
An Online Hub for Older Adult Resources on the South Side of Chicago
Created by the University of Chicago Medicine’s SHARE Network (Supporting Healthy Aging Resources and Education), this guide contains a list of health resources available for seniors on Chicago’s South Side. The guide is available online and in print form.
How to use the online hub:
To use the online version, visit the SHARE Network website and select a category from the drop-down menu on the left. Clicking the category will take you to information about that topic; clicking the > will take you to additional sub-categories. You can also type a service or resource into the Search Bar above.
Pick up a free printed copy of the resource guide at the following locations: