Maintaining a healthy lifestyle may be key to preventing cognitive decline – the loss of ability to think – with age, according to a new advisory from the American Heart Association. Both the heart and brain need adequate blood flow, but in many people, blood vessels slowly become narrowed or blocked over the course of their life, a condition known as atherosclerosis, the cause of many heart attacks and strokes. Most people describe memory care as a specific type of long-term care setting geared toward the unique needs of people who are living with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. Memory care communities are usually secured environments to prevent wandering and may include fenced outdoor spaces, activity programs geared toward people with dementia, increased staffing, and other supportive features. Current research has identified many factors that contribute to cognitive decline, from nutrient and hormone deficiencies and chronic inflammation to insulin resistance and the build-up of brain toxins like heavy metals, molds, herbicides, pesticides, and plastics. At A Mind For All Seasons, we believe that memory care, as the words would suggest, should be rooted in doing things that actually take care of and preserve memory. Whether a person is trying to prevent dementia or treat an existing type of dementia, memory care involves taking steps to help the brain heal and function as optimally as possible. You can click here to read about HEALTHY BRAIN HQ. Although the kind of communities described above have played an important role in the care continuum, we believe they basically offer a comfortable setting in which to manage the decline of people whose bodies are being ravaged by Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. The programs and calm, specially designed environments some of these communities offer are very therapeutic, but our understanding of dementia has progressed dramatically in the last five years and much more can be done. We are on a mission to protect as many people as possible from the devastating effects of dementia. That is why we created the world’s first memory care program for assisted living, skilled nursing, independent living, and outpatient settings that is designed to help people dramatically lower their risk of developing dementia and provide effective treatments to those who already have a diagnosis. We call the program The Enhance Protocol®. Imagine that you feel your mind is foggy and you start to worry because you watched helplessly as family members developed Alzheimer’s disease and slowly became people you hardly recognized. You are secretly afraid that dementia might cut your career short or might ruin your plans for a happy retirement. What if there was a place you could go for baseline cognitive testing and to complete a broad panel of blood work to identify what is contributing to your symptoms? Then, you are assigned a memory coach who walks you through a specially prepared, highly personalized and comprehensive report that is like the user manual to your body. Your memory coach helps you learn how to eat in brain healthy ways, what supplements you personally need based on your lab results, what hormones you should talk to your doctor about replacing, what toxic substances might be affecting you, and more. You have a check in with your memory coach every week to keep you on track, offer encouragement, and answer questions. Every three months your memory coach re-checks your cognitive functioning to measure progress and helps you complete blood work in areas where you needed to improve. You get a new treatment plan and continue working to improve. Alzheimer’s disease is often at work ten to twenty years before dementia symptoms show up.
Many risk factors for atherosclerosis can be modified by following a healthy diet, getting enough physical activity, avoiding tobacco products and other strategies.
Research summarised in the advisory convincingly demonstrates that the same risk factors that cause atherosclerosis, are also major contributors to late-life cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, said Philip Gorelick, from Mercy Health Hauenstein Neuroscience Center in the US.
By following seven simple steps – Life’s Simple 7 – not only can we prevent heart attack and stroke, we may also be able to prevent cognitive impairment, said Gorelick.
Life’s Simple 7 outlines a set of health factors developed by the American Heart Association to define and promote cardiovascular wellness.
The Life’s Simple 7 programme urges individuals to manage blood pressure, control cholesterol, keep blood sugar normal get physically active, eat a healthy diet, lose extra weight and not smoke.
A healthy brain is defined as one that can pay attention, receive and recognise information from our senses; learn and remember; communicate; solve problems and make decisions; support mobility and regulate emotions. Cognitive impairment can affect any or all of those functions.
The advisory, which is published in the journal Stroke, stresses the importance of taking steps to keep your brain healthy as early as possible, because atherosclerosis – the narrowing of the arteries that causes many heart attacks, heart failure and strokes – can begin in childhood.