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Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

Alzheimer’s Is Not Inevitable

In caregiving, community, Health on February 19, 2012 at 3:27 am

Many experts believe we can, if not prevent, delay dementia ~ even if it seems to run in the family. Reducing risk factors like diabetes, obesity, smoking and lack of physical activity just by 25% could prevent approximately 1/2 million cases of Alzheimer’s in the U.S. according to a recent analysis from the University of California.

The goal is to prolong it long enough that we can live a life without ever suffering from the sysptoms (Gary Small, MD UCLA’s director of Longevity Center). There seem to be four main areas.

GET MOVING ~ one of the key things we can do to keep our brains young is exercise. Higher exercise levels can reduce dementia risk by 30 – 40%. Physically active people tend to have better cognitive function and memory. Physical activity can also trigger the the growth of new nerve cells & promote nerve growth. Even a little exercise is better than none…15 minutes of regular exercise three times a week can help maintain the brain.

PUMP SOME IRON ~ Studies have shown lifting weights, even light weights, have increased cognitive function and increased the levels of growth factors in the brain, such as IGFI, which nourish & protect nerve cells.

LEARNING ~ When we challenge the brain, we increase the number of brain cells & the number of connections between those cells. It is not enough to do things like crossword puzzles if this is something you routinely do. You have to learn new things like sudoku or a new language. Engaging the mind can help older brains maintain healthy functioning.

REDUCE STRESS ~ chronic stress floods our brains with cortisol which leads to impaired memory. Harvard Researchers studied men & women trained in meditation and found they had reduced harmful stress hormones compared to individuls who were not taking “down time” to reduce the stress in their lives.

Bottom line, the things that we keep hearing about exercising, reducing stress, etc. seem to have way more positives than negatives so what do you have to loose? Get out there and “move your body”!

Caregivers Evening ~ Had to Share

In caregiving on February 5, 2012 at 6:36 am

One of our caregivers’ assignment is a young child. When I called to check in with her one Saturday evening she told me how her evening was going and had both of us laughing so hard we were crying. The evening began with her making a comment about their doggie door and how it made her uncomfortable from a safety perspective. (They have a big dog so the door is pretty big) So the child’s father put the latch on it to lock it. During the evening she started smelling something funny (bad) and kept checking the child’s diaper. While on the floor playing, the child moved toward the door and was trying to grab at something so she hurried over to see what the child was going after and to her surprise the dog had pooed on the floor in front of the doggie door. She picked up the child and began running around looking for something to clean up the poo with (disinfectant)…she also decided the dog needed to be able to go out the door which trumped her fear of someone coming in the door.

All of this happened (of course) after she had given the child his bath during which the dog kept trying to go under her legs; she ended up putting the dog out of the bathroom. When she finally put the child to bed for the evening, turned the monitoring camera on and began to pick up the toys they had been playing with she hears a loud sound. She immediately gets up and rushes to the childs room to find the child had somehow managed to pull the monitoring camera off the wall. She spent the next 15 minutes trying to figure out how to get it back on the wall and working.

After all of this the child was wide awake so she took him to the living room to rock him and give him a bottle. While in the kitchen getting his bottle ready he gets into one of the cabinets and starts pulling everything out. She told me she documented on the Home Safety checklist, “kitchen cabinets need child proof locks” after another few minutes picking up everything and trying to get the cabinet back in order. He finally fell asleep. She said he was out like a light, exhausted from the evenings playing and activities. I really think it was her that was exhausted. She loves the little guy though and wouldn’t trade this assignment for the world!