• October 2, 2017 /  Dementia

    Lifestyle Tips to Help Prevent Dementia

    For those with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, forgetting names and misplacing keys is more than just a frustration – it can feel like a sign of what’s to come. But we are more than our genes and in fact, for the vast majority, it’s lifestyle choices that represent the biggest dementia risk factors.

    Change is hard, and it’s unrealistic to try to completely transform your life just for the sake of making changes. A smarter move would be to take manageable steps that will actually make a provable impact. Taking a look at scientific evidence can help you make those changes.

    Improve Your Daily Routine

    From how you spend your daylight hours to how well you sleep at night, it’s your daily routine that impacts your health the most.

    • Quit smoking.A daily habit of lighting up can be a dementia risk factor, research shows. In 2014, the World Health Organization found that smokers have a 45 percent higher risk of developing dementia than non-smokers. Be aware of second-hand smoke exposure too – it may increase your dementia risk by nearly the same amount as if you were holding the cigarette. For tips on quitting, read our previous article on the subject here.
    • Sleep better.The CDC estimates that 50-70 million U.S. adults don’t get enough sleep. Studies suggest that slumber is essential to brain health. As you snooze, your brain resets and cleans out the hormones and chemicals it used during the day. One of the chemicals that is scrubbed away each night is amyloid-beta, a chemical that forms brain plaque – a key suspect in what causes Alzheimer’s.
    • Exercise regularly.One of the signs of dementia is loss of brain mass. A 2013 study conducted by Maryland School of Public Health researchers tracked four groups of healthy adults aged 65-89 – those with high and low Alzheimer’s risk and those with high and low activity levels. Only one group lost brain mass – those who had both a high genetic risk for Alzheimer’s and who also did not exercise. If you need ideas on how to start getting fit, read our article about how to stay active!

    Fuel Your Body

    Your body and your brain run on what you consume. There is a significant amount of science on which foods can help reduce your dementia risk.

    • Drink raw fruit and vegetable juices.A 2006 study from Vanderbilt University found that drinking fruit and vegetable juices more than three times a week could cut your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 76 percent.
    • Eat less sugar.Diabetes may not cause Alzheimer’s directly, but the two diseases share the same root cause – the body not using insulin properly. According to research published in the American Academy of Neurology’s journal in 2011, diabetics are more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and have an increased risk of developing dementia of any kind.
    • Eat more fish.Omega-3 fatty acids may protect against brain atrophy, which is associated dementia. An eight-year study lead by University of South Dakota researchers found that women with the highest levels of omega-3s in their blood had 2.7 percent larger brain volume – that means their brain atrophied less. Plus, those who reported eating seafood at least once a week were less likely to have the dementia-related brain plaque.

    Strengthen Your Brain

    Protect your brain’s health by strengthening the areas often targeted by dementia.

    • Learn a new language.In 2013, a study published in the American Academy of Neurology’s journal found that participants who spoke a second language developed dementia 4.5 years later than their monolingual counterparts.
    • Do new things.Simply put, learning new skills helps enhance cognitive function. In a 2013 University of Texas at Dallas study, participants learned quilting or digital photography for three months. They found that no matter if the participants learned the skill alone or with others, their memory of past events was enhanced. The key is to find and spend time mastering new hobbies that make your brain think in new ways.
    • Meditation not only lowers stress – research suggests it can help reduce brain atrophy. A study from the Jena University Hospital in Germany found that the brains of people who meditated regularly appeared on average seven years younger than their true age.

    Dementia may not be inevitable. The studies highlighted here seem to suggest that it’s possible to influence and change your dementia risk factors. Know the science so you can take control and face dementia head-on!

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  • June 13, 2017 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    6 Essential Tips for Managing Arthritis

    Living with arthritis isn’t easy. For many seniors, it can be an unpleasant addition to other health problems. As you lose your ability to do simple things like using a can opener, typing, or writing, your frustration will likely increase. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that approximately 50 million people in the United States are living with some form of arthritis, making this crippling disease the country’s most common form of disability.

    If you are handicapped by any form of arthritis, you know the limitations the disease imposes on your ability to work, move, and generally feel comfortable, and you are probably willing to try anything that might improve your quality of life. There are definitely things you can do to lessen the pain and possibly increase your mobility. Here are six ways you can self-manage an arthritis diagnosis and improve your quality of life.

    1. Diet – It can start as simple as the food you put into your mouth. Most of us try to eat a healthy diet, but for those with arthritis and other difficult health problems, it is essential. You need to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs to function at its highest level. Packaged foods and frozen dinners can lack the proper nutrition required. But with age you might find your desire or ability to cook lessens. You can start by looking up recipes designed to be simple and healthy. You can also look into a food service such as Meals on Wheels, who can provide what you need and bring it right to your doorstep.
    2. Exercise – This is something I discussed in detail in the past. Read the post, “How to Exercise When You Have Arthritis” for more! In general, your aim is to keep moving, whether in large or small ways. Always consult your doctor before embarking on a fitness regime. However, you can start by focusing on doing just a little, but doing it often. You can walk around your neighborhood in the morning, garden in the afternoon, and swim in the evening, as an example. Your muscles support your joints, so strengthening them can greatly reduce pain. Your doctor may have other suggestions.
    3. Rest – Make sure to get 7-9 hours sleep per night. A study published in the journal Arthritis Care and Research 2015 found that people who didn’t get sufficient sleep had increased levels of osteoarthritis knee pain. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, have a bath (a tip discussed next), and practice relaxation techniques if you find getting to sleep is difficult. Short naps, as long as they aren’t too close to evening time, can refresh you as well.
    4. Take a bath – Yes, really! This simple tip can have a multitude of benefits. Soaking in warm water makes your joints looser by reducing the force of gravity that’s compressing them. This offers 360-degree support for your sore limbs. It’ll decrease swelling and inflammation, and increase circulation. Be sure to go warm, but not too hot. Epsom salts are a great addition to your bath, which actually increase your magnesium – a mineral important for bone health. Be wary if you have diabetes, as it can stimulate insulin release. Ask your doctor first.
    5. Joint care – It’s important to look after your joints so as not to risk further damage. How can you reduce the stress on your joints while carrying out everyday tasks? Use larger, stronger joints as levers – for example, take the pressure of opening a heavy door on your shoulder rather than on your hand. You can also use several joints to spread the weight of an object – for example, use both hands to carry your shopping or distribute the weight evenly in a shoulder bag or rucksack.

    Arthritis pain should not be a reason why you stop enjoying your everyday life. These are just a few options when it comes to self-care. Consult with your doctor for more ideas on what you can do from home.

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  • December 10, 2013 /  Difficult Conversations

    Each of the 5 tips listed below are shared with us courtesy of Help Guide.org about effective tips when having this type of conversation with an aging loved one about driver safety, or possible confiscation of car keys. 

    • Be respectful. For many seniors, driving is an integral part of independence. Many older adults have fond memories of getting a driver’s license. At the same time, don’t be intimidated or back down if you have a true concern.

    • Give specific examples. It’s easier to tune out generalizations like “You just can’t drive safely anymore.” Outline concerns that you have noticed, such as “You have a harder time turning your head than you used to,” or “You braked suddenly at stop signs three times the last time we drove.”

    • Find strength in numbers. If more than one family member or close friend has noticed, it’s less likely to be taken as nagging. A loved one may also listen to a more impartial party, such as a doctor or driving specialist.

    • Help find alternatives. The person may be so used to driving that they have never considered alternatives. You can offer concrete help, such as researching transportation options or offering rides when possible. If your family member is reluctant to ask for help, it can lead to isolation and depression.

    • Understand the difficulty of the transition. Your loved one may experience a profound sense of loss having given up driving. Don’t dismiss their feelings but try to help with the transition as much as possible. If it is safe, try slowly transitioning the senior out of driving to give them time to adjust. For example, your loved one may begin the transition by no longer driving at night or on the freeways, or by using a shuttle service to specific appointments, such as the doctor’s. ~ Source: Help Guide.org

    This can be a difficult conversation for several reasons including sensitivity some aging loved ones might feel, or head strong aging relatives like Uncle Oscar who are used to having everything their way.

    Join our conversation and share with us any helpful tips and suggestions on what can make this sometimes dreaded conversation end with a favorable result.

    A friendly reminder is the week of December 2nd is National Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, so these helpful tips are ideal for future reference information.


    I serve the counties of El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Solano, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba, as well as cities like Auburn, Lincoln, Rocklin, Roseville, Sacramento, Placerville, and Woodland.

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