Caregiver and Fatique {and planning a vacation}

Dementia and Prevention: for seniors who fight back

There are several courses of action when it comes to preventing Dementia and the sooner steps are taken, the better. It’s best to take action before Dementia starts to take control. Once it gets a foothold, it’s difficult to stop it from taking over your life. Here is a look at Dementia and prevention for seniors who fight back.

Dementia is very debilitating, and often it becomes a situation that’s very difficult for caregivers and the seniors they are trying to help. In most cases, the senior involved will not be able to age in place and an assisted living retirement community is the only option.

Aging is without a doubt the biggest risk factor when it comes to contracting dementia. In some cases, it might even be hereditary, but there is no guarantee that just because a disease has appeared in your family history, that you will contract it as well.

In the case of dementia symptoms, lifestyle and environmental factors can pose just as great, or even greater risk, than genetics.

It’s actually Alzheimer’s Disease that is the biggest cause of dementia.

Dementia in itself is not a condition, but rather a symptom.

ABOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

There are actually two types of Alzheimer’s. They are called early and late-onset, and they are both different in terms of hereditary impact. This type is most likely to be caused by genetics as early-onset. Sometimes early-onset is called familial Alzheimer’s.

It rarely happens, but it is possible to pass on a genetic mutation which may have occurred in one of three key genes. If for example, one of your parents suffered from Alzheimer’s you would be at a 50/50 risk of inheriting the same mutation. On the bright side, however, these mutations are very rare and are only responsible for a small portion of Alzheimer cases.

In the case of late-onset, there are several factors that could play a role.

Dementia and Prevention: for seniors who fight back
Seniors with Dementia require lots of care.

These include genetics, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Although it may increase your risk if a relative suffered from late-onset, it’s not necessarily a given that you will contract it yourself.

That’s where being pro-active by adhering to an active, healthy lifestyle comes into play.

Vascular dementia is the second most common type and it does not appear to be linked to genetics in most case. Genetic factors have been linked more to the underlying causes of vascular dementia. Some classic examples are high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension, as these do run in the family.

This underscores the importance of following a heart-healthy lifestyle and here are several ways to accomplish this.

The biggest risk factor of Dementia is getting older, but the risk can be reduced by keeping active, eating healthy, and exercising your mind.

Here are ten facts about Alzheimer’s you might find eye-opening.

MAINTAINING A PHYSICALLY ACTIVE LIFESTYLE

Adopting regular physical activity as a way of life and not a brief New Year’s resolution that soon fades away is critically important in the battle to prevent Dementia. It helps in several ways. It’s excellent for your heart, circulation, weight, and mental well being.

Aerobic activity is key. Every week the aim should be to include at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity. This might include walking with purpose, riding a bike, or swimming. It’s best not to exercise too aggressively if you are just starting out on an exercise program of any type.

Pushing too hard too soon will have you training in the anaerobic zone as opposed to the aerobic zone.

The difference between the two is that with aerobic exercise you are requiring or using oxygen and you are exercising in your fat-burning zone. This means you are burning fat for fuel as opposed to anaerobic exercises where your intake of oxygen is far less and you are burning glycogen for fuel.

So when it comes to running, swimming, or biking, the amount of effort you put into it will determine if you are aerobic or anaerobic. For instance, a runner who is running fast or up a steep hill will most likely be in an anaerobic state because of the physical effort involved.

Dementia and Prevention: for seniors who fight back
Walking is a great way for a senior to begin an exercise program.

Also, a marathon runner who runs too fast and gets into an anaerobic state will burn through glycogen stores quickly and end up running out of energy and hitting the proverbial Wall that all marathoners are familiar with.

For seniors, it would seem to make more sense to exercise in an aerobic state. It’s less stressful, burns fat, and is excellent for the heart and overall fitness.

Swimming and running easily are excellent ways for seniors to get and stay fit, but for those who are just starting out, it would make more sense not to overexert yourself until a certain level of fitness is attained.

For those seniors who are relatively new to the world of fitness, walking on a consistent basis or swimming easily is an excellent way to begin. As fitness improves, there are a few ways to increase the degree of difficulty. You can exercise more often, you can exercise for a longer period of time, or you can exercise at a faster pace.

Many studies have found that swimming is one of the best exercises for seniors to improve balance and cardiovascular fitness.

I’m also a firm believer that all seniors should do resistance training(weight lifting)on a regular basis. This keeps the muscles strong, the heart vibrant, and will help fight off any number of disease common to seniors who are sedentary.

EATING HEALTHY

Eating healthy is different things to different people, but a diet with appropriate amounts of fat, protein, and complex carbohydrates are key.

For those seniors who have weight to lose, a diet that includes fewer carbohydrates combined with regular exercise will yield the best results. However, once the desired weight is reached, more complex carbohydrates can be introduced into the diet.

Dementia and Prevention: for seniors who fight back
Making healthy nutrition choices is key in the fight against Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

In other words, you have to earn your carbohydrates. As I mentioned when I explained the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise, exercising in the aerobic, fat-burning state is key for seniors. A sound diet along with plenty of aerobic exercises never fails to result in weight loss if you stick with it.

This, in turn, puts less stress on your heart and is excellent for circulation. Following the national diet plan that usually consists of a balanced diet is not always the best thing as each individual is different and has different dietary goals.

For instance, a senior who is obese and trying to lose weight would not likely achieve the desired results by eating five portions of fruit and the amount of bread, potatoes, and pasta recommended in the national diet plan. As I said,  carbohydrates can be increased once a senior has reached their ideal body weight.

Yes, you have to earn your carbohydrates.

KEEP YOUR MIND SHARP

It’s critically important to look after your body, but just as important to look after your mental well-being. Many seniors who retire seem to forget that it’s still important to challenge their mental capacity even though they are not sitting behind a desk working.

If you constantly challenge your mind to work at full capacity, it will go a long way toward fighting off dementia. In a way that is still unclear even to the most brilliant doctors and researchers, an active, sharp mind seems to have the ability to fight off disease.

Being of sound mind and body seems to be much more powerful than any prescription drug when it comes to the quality of life and longevity.

There are many things a senior can do to stay mentally and emotionally healthy.

Being sequestered all alone in your home is not particularly healthy in any way, shape, or form. Getting out there and socializing is excellent for emotional and mental well-being. A great example is volunteering. There are few things more gratifying than using your lifetime of knowledge to help others.

Dementia and Prevention: for seniors who fight back
Crossword puzzles are excellent for keeping the mind sharp and engaged.

As part of your aerobic activity, why not join a mall-walking group, Zumba class, or water aerobics class? These are just a few examples. There are dozens of ways to stay socially involved and broaden your horizons while at the same time maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

If you are a senior or caregiver and would like help in finding the perfect senior community to meet your specific needs be sure to contact CARING.COM In order to find senior care and senior living options near you.

Some seniors are actually far better off joining an independent living community as opposed to living on their own. That way they can socialize all they want.

They can read, play cards and board games or do puzzles, crosswords, or quizzes.

There is always something to do in an independent living community to keep a senior body and mind sharp and hitting on all cylinders.

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