Elderly Carmel resident getting his heart checked by a doctor.

Practical ways for decreasing risk of heart disease

A healthy lifestyle correlates with a strong and healthy heart. Therefore, if you make even small improvements in lifestyle, chances are you will increase your heart health.

There are a staggering 17,000,000 deaths worldwide each year as a result of heart disease. Yet, up to 80% of these sad and untimely deaths may be prevented. Symptoms of heart disease often sneak up quietly and unnoticed before the damage is realized.

Heart attacks and other heart disease symptoms can certainly alter your plans for the future. You may choose to remain ignorant or you can take the time to learn more about heart disease. Then, once you learn about it and understand what you can do to prevent it, you have another choice. Sit around and worry about what might happen to you or do the work to prevent it and actively decrease your risk of heart disease by making necessary changes to improve your overall health.

 

Causes of Poor Heart Health

Though humans have been studying heart health for many years, there aren’t really any new surprises on the causes of heart disease. Atherosclerosis is still the worst offender, as it is a buildup of plaque in the lining of arteries. The plaque hardens and narrows the arteries over time, decreasing the blood flow to organs and tissues that are vitally important. Eventually, the heart and blood vessels have become damaged.

Three lifestyle habits are responsible for atherosclerosis:

  • Poor diet choices
  • Not enough exercise
  • Smoking

These three bad habits, along with a big dose of stress can equal heart disease. The good news is that some risk factors, like age and genetics, may not be in your control, but lifestyle habits and daily choices are, and you DO have the power to make healthy changes!

Takeaway tip: Understand the causes of heart disease. Understand your own personal behaviors that could increase your own risk of heart problems. Then, make a plan for change.

 

How to Prevent Heart Problems

Diet

The human body thrives on fresh and nutritious food. Healthy food primes your body for achieving optimal health. Alternately, poor eating habits can slow you down, clogging arteries with plaque, creating high blood pressure problems, and raising cholesterol levels beyond healthy limits, as well. Pack your diet with healthy fats, and use less salt and sugar to improve better heart health.

Doctor-recommended food plans for better heart health are the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan3 and the Mediterranean Diet. They’re slightly different, yet their foundations are similar.

Best diets for heart health always encourage:

  • Vegetables, especially greens, broccoli, cabbage and carrots
  • Colorful fruits like apples, berries, melons and oranges and citrus fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Quality proteins
  • Coldwater fish
  • Eggs
  • Healthy fats (nuts, seeds and avocado)

Nutrient dense whole foods will help you feel satiated. If you find yourself with cravings, don’t give in to foods or drinks heavy in salt, sugar and alcohol.

Takeaway Tip: Select one nutrient dense whole food to add into your diet this week. At the same time, choose one processed food you will eliminate or at least cut back on eating. It’s feasible to make both changes at one time! For example, maybe you will start eating a bowl of fresh fruit for breakfast instead of a blueberry muffin filled with sugar.

 

Get More Exercise

Physical activity can help us stay healthy. Get up and move around during the day as much as possible. It’s good for us and it helps to lessen four common risk factors for heart disease.

Increased exercise:

  • may decrease high cholesterol levels
  • can lower blood pressure
  • helps with weight loss
  • lowers the likelihood of type 2 diabetes

Once you know this, you may feel motivated to get more exercise. Two and a half hours per week or just 20 minutes per day is typically recommended by experts. Your heartbeat should be elevated for at least 10 minutes at a time. Of course, an easy exercise is walking, but swimming, dancing, bicycling and weight lifting are healthy choices, too.

Takeaway Tip: Try adding at least 5 minutes of additional activity to your day at first. Turn on the music and enjoy some dancing in your own living room! Little things count, too. Even when you go out to the mailbox, walk a little faster!

 

Smoking

Just stop! Do it for your heart! Nicotine reduces the size of blood vessels. That allows your carbon monoxide to effectively destroy the insides of the heart vessels. Smoking creates a steeper risk of heart disease for people.4

Sure, it’s a challenge to break the habit, but still, it’s a habit, which means it is a lifestyle choice. In other words, it’s all within your control. Of course, it’s hard to quit… but still, it’s possible to do, and many people do quit every day. Ask your doctor about programs or products that could potentially help with cessation.

Takeaway Tip: Understand your reasons for wanting to quit smoking. Maybe you want to stop so you can generally feel better, or maybe to play more with your grandkids? Decide on what best motivates you, then create a post-it note reminder where you’ll see it often.

 

Stress

High levels of body inflammation are created from prolonged stress. You can reduce and manage stress before your arteries become damaged. Research proves that highly charged emotional situations often precede heart attacks! If coping with stress means that you’ll drink more alcohol, smoke, suppress emotions and make poor food choices, take advantage of some better strategies for relieving stress.

Try:

  • Talking to a mental health provider for new coping strategies
  • Practicing meditation
  • Increasing daily physical activity
  • Releasing hurts and frustrations
  • Enjoying your relationships with full intention

Sometimes, life’s challenges aren’t within our control, but our response is within our control.

Takeaway Tip: How do you deal with life’s stressors? Feel ready to make some changes? Try making one sweet and simple new habit, like writing down five things you’re thankful for when you awake, or practice 30 seconds of deep breathing if anxious feelings arise.

 

Learn all you can about prevention of heart disease. Understand your own risk factors. Know what you’re up against if you don’t make necessary lifestyle changes, then focus on something you’re willing to change. Take a moment to think about heart disease risks that are most likely to affect you. Then, take one simple step at a time. Even one healthy new habit can make a difference!

Older couple walking outdoors in the sunshine in Carmel, IN

Good Strategies for Seniors to Increase Energy in Daily Life

Apparently, we can’t just blame our lack of energy on aging. Certainly, some of us will blame aging anyway, but when we take an honest look around at older active adults, we just can’t honestly say, “I don’t have energy because I’m old!”  Aging with grace and ease is something we all eventually take the time to think about. Usually, our thoughts are triggered by our body’s changes that we’ve ignored or brushed aside until that day when our wall of denial finally crumbles. Then, we absolutely know we must take the time to figure out if there is more we can do to age well.

How to Age Well

Keep in mind the following tips for positive aging when you want to recharge your energy reserves. Dr. Beth Frates recommends paying attention to what might be really draining and sapping the energy from you.

  1. Who are You Spending Time With? Are the people in your life truly wonderful to be around? Do you make it a point to spend plenty of time with the friends you feel most comfortable with? Do they encourage you, accept and respect you for who you are, what you like to do, and where you want to go in life? Or, are these people making you feel like you need to hide or maybe even protect a piece of yourself? If the result of spending time with the latter group is a feeling of low energy, consider limiting your time with them! Spend time with people who make you feel good.
  2. Take a Walk for 5 Minutes When you’re fatigued and the craving monster inside is beginning to grumble, consider taking a five-minute walk. Just five minutes – really! Get outside, take a walk around the block and stretch your legs. Hopefully, you can enjoy some pleasant weather. It’s amazing and true that a short walk can be invigorating! Dr. Frates say deep breathing revives the parasympathetic system, also. Do a breathing pattern of 4-7-8: four breaths in, hold for seven counts, and exhale for eight.
  3. Drink Plenty of Water It’s important to take note of how much water we are drinking, especially as we age. We have to be mindful of the quantity of fluids we’re drinking so that we are sure to maintain fully hydrated. Staying hydrated helps our metabolic rate and keeps us as healthy as possible. Water is of the utmost importance when it comes to recovery from exercise, too. One of the initial signs of dehydration is fatigue so don’t hesitate to grab a glass of water when you begin to feel energy reserves are zapped.
  4. Do Strength Training  Lifting weights and working on any resistance exercises is a great idea for people over 60 years old to boost energy levels. As we continue to build muscle mass, we can maintain our previous strength from earlier years. In addition, when we are stronger, our bodies work more efficiently, and this contributes to our overall energy, as well.
  5. Take Vitamins Taking high-quality vitamins and supplements daily will most likely help you feel better all over, mentally and physically. Good supplements can contribute greatly to your quality of life and wellbeing. Work with your doctor or healthcare professional to help you figure out which nutrients might be lacking and will be best for you at this time in your life.
  6. Get Enough Sleep Ah, we used to sleep so easily. We’d just lie down and fall asleep so quickly. Do you remember this? But, in later years, we are often deprived of good sleep. Although there’s an abundance of good-intentioned advice, one of the best things to do is simply go to bed at the same time every night and wake up each morning at the same time. It seems odd, for sure, but recommendations for the sleep-deprived, actually include getting less sleep. It sounds strange, but if you spend a great deal of time in bed worrying about not being able to sleep, maybe you need to reduce the amount of time spent in bed. Some people find this strategy to get their most restful sleep back:
  • Don’t nap during the daytime.
  • Go to bed later than normal and get just four hours of sleep on the first night’s attempt.
  • Add another 15 – 30 minutes more sleep the next night, and each one after until it’s an ample amount.
  • If you’re sleeping soundly the whole time you’re in bed, just keep adding additional sleep on successive nights until you’ve found your sweet spot.

Any of these tips might improve your energy level. It’s fun to create an experiment out of your sleep by tracking how you feel when you challenge yourself with these tips. Stay solid in your beliefs that by embracing your own self-care, you will learn how to age well and feel energized, too!

Older Carmel residents enjoying a party with balloons

Positive Attitudes Can Reduce Dementia Risk

The question often arises, “Can a positive outlook on life improve our brain health?” Researchers adamantly affirm, “yes,” and here are some helpful suggestions we have found for aging adults and for their caregivers who want to be helpful.

Attitude Matters

Smiling truly helps physical and mental health and keeping a positive attitude takes it even further. Smiling releases endorphins. Even a forced smile genuinely decreases stress. In fact, research shows that good attitudes actually reduce the risk of dementia. Even when aging adults carry a gene variant linked to dementia, their good attitudes appeared to make them 50% less likely to develop the disorder. Pessimism, on the other hand, worked against them. These results are impressive and give us further motivation to keep up with positive relationships, personal connections and good attitude.

Stay Connected Intentionally

It’s often said that we are the sum total of our friends and interactions, regardless of whether it’s family, co-workers or friends. This means it’s especially important to intentionally surround ourselves with people with good attitudes. It’s contagious! Stay connected with those who keep good outlooks on life, are active and involved.

No Complaints!

When people fall into the trap of complaining, beware and keep some distance. Complaining takes us down a path of negativity that’s not good for anyone. No one really wants to hear complaining about bad weather, long lines and aches or pains. It’s difficult to be around that kind of attitude for long, unless you are the same sort. So, even thought there are days that you may be down or aggravated, resolve to mingle with people who help you stay upbeat. Don’t allow self-pity to come over you like a dark cloud.

Routine is Good

Waking up at the same time every day has a health benefit. It’s not always easy but it matters. Morning rituals can keep us going, and especially if they involve conversation and healthy habits like a good breakfast or exercise.

Laugh as Much and Often as Possible

Allowing the rush of endorphins into the brain and bloodstream helps us feel good in so many ways. Keep laughter a regular part of life by going to the theater for funny movies or comedy shows. Turn something funny on the television or YouTube and interact with children whenever possible. Their liveliness and energy is always uplifting.

Be a Goal Setter

Looking forward to things in the upcoming days or weeks helps us with attitude and outlook. It makes us sharp and prepared. Create a list, make a plan, and accomplish tasks, regardless how big or small they might be.

Enjoy life to the fullest with good brain and body health! Protect your wellbeing with activity, healthy lifestyle changes and a positive attitude!

Older couple using an ipad together in Carmel, IN

New Technologies in Senior Care to Watch Out For

Technology is constantly changing and growing in many ways. It is not an easy task to keep up with all the latest advancements. However, it is important to at least try to remain current because recent updates in technology designs can greatly impact the quality of life for seniors.

New devices can help with a variety of senior care concerns including brain health and memory exercises, reminders to take medications, exercises to increase mobility, and keeping in contact with family and friends. Caregivers can even help engage seniors from afar using the latest technology.

Seniors are adapting to the rapid changes in technology and using it more often in their daily lives. In fact, we have access to more technology now than any other past generation.

Because of this rapid change, many new products come and go. The products which are not intuitive or easy to learn are the first to be left behind. Simple, good design is what is needed for the technology to help seniors in every aspect of their lives. The following are examples of helpful senior care technology.

Improving Brain Health with Technology

Developers have noted the trend that the over-65 demographic have demand for new technology which allows them to express themselves creatively. This is driving a push for new research into products which improve brain health, in addition to those that improve daily care.

One good example is Mentia, an iPad game by Deva World. While playing this game, users with dementia can interact with an on-screen animated character. From there, the senior can select various media which he or she finds to be mentally engaging, such as paintings, music, and books.

Technology to Strengthen Memory

Those who are experiencing memory loss can benefit from a program called BlipIQ. This allows family members and the user to upload pictures, texts, stories, audio, and videos from their lives. Interacting with this program will keep seniors’ memory active as they reminisce about their past.

Seniors may not understand virtual reality until they try it themselves, however this is another technology that engages the mind. For instance, they can put on a virtual reality headset and take a virtual tour of the world’s natural wonders. These headsets can also be synced so multiple people can share the same adventure together, even allowing communication and experiences with other people around the globe.

Technology for Medication Reminders

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40% of seniors over the age of 65 are taking 5 or more medications daily. This can make it quite challenging to remember which pills have been taken and which have not.

Fortunately, there are now apps available on your smartphone which sound an alarm for medication reminders. Pillbox and other apps like it will even show a picture of the pill that should be taken, making it very convenient for seniors who are forgetful.

Technology for Effective Senior Exercise

In order to keep our minds and bodies healthy, it is important to include exercise into our routine. This is especially true for seniors, who may have trouble with mobility. New wearable electronic devices like the Fitbit make it easy to set fitness goals while keeping track of your movement.

Another technology on the horizon is the development of robotic exoskeletons. Once thought of as pure science fiction, this external brace may help stimulate tired muscles and provide stability.

Technology to Keep in Touch

As people age, it becomes more challenging to keep in touch with friends and family. Seniors often deal with loneliness and isolation. They can now reach out through devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones or share pictures and messages over Facebook.

Besides digital communication, there are also programs to keep seniors connected in person. For those who can no longer drive, Lyft offers a comfortable and convenient ride-sharing. Lyft and similar ride-sharing companies have recently partnered with healthcare facilities and can provide transportation to doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, grocery stores, and visits with friends and family.

This rapid expansion of technology is an exciting development. Many seniors can benefit from using these innovative programs and devices to improve their quality of life.

Home care assistant putting sweater on a senior woman in Carmel, IN

Providing In Home Care for an Aging Loved One During a Slow Decline

Lending a helping hand to a parent or loved one who is aging slowly, is a challenge. There is a difference when providing in home care for someone who is slowly declining than for someone on a path of rapid decline.

Sadly, as much as you try to care for someone with a serious medical condition, more than likely there is an “end in sight.” When our senior loved ones are battling with raves of age, there is no set time of a decline. Their capability of being physical and mental will start to decline every year though.

Seniors who have been independent, active with successful careers and have lived fulfilling lives their whole life, will likely adjust with difficulty to their compromised or “reduced” condition and lifestyle. This can be frustrating and even be disempowering.

Strong personalities who have always felt invincible can develop physical and mental limitations. This can cause vulnerability and insecurity. They may be psychologically and physically distressed by their limitations. Although they used to very autonomous, lived alone and were able to take care of themselves, limitations can come into play. Maybe they are unable to drive anymore or play tennis once a week like they used to; perhaps taking out the garage is too difficult. At this point, seniors are likely frustrated by how slowly they function at this point in their life or how, at times, they can’t find something. Since they are “perfectly healthy” or “just old,” it is harder to grasp. Denial is an easy state to be in when you value self-sufficiency and independence; no one wants to admit they can’t do what they once did.

The Challenges of Caregiving

Seniors who have been independent can be very hesitant to accept help, especially from family members who must see them in their debilitated state. My father was a classic example of this. Although he was a widow who can no longer live alone, he refused to accept any help. His heart-breaking incident – a fall – he begrudgingly accepted in home care services. Although he was a lucky one (the fall wasn’t horrific, and he was okay) you don’t want to wait for an accident like this to trigger awareness. Sometimes it is not easy honoring a loved one’s autonomy while at the same time keeping them safe but planning and preparing before it’s critical or urgent will be beneficial in the end.

Parents who can slowly debilitate when they were smart and capable their whole life is not easy for families to experience. Most elders prefer staying in their own, even if their home is not suitable for aging. They may also refuse the help they need, even though it’s not ideal. While we want to respect our parents’ independence and wishes, we need to ensure they are safe as well. Although our goal is keeping them safe and not fail, we must find the balance and overcome the fear of them falling. failing.

Ultimately, my father’s caregiver, Marilyn, became his new best friend. This being said, we had to refer to Marilyn as his assistant, not his caregiver (because of course my father refused to accept “care” from him).

The same mother who balked at having a caregiver in her home for even a few hours a day, after six months was so spoiled having someone cook her meals and so enjoyed the company, that she complained when Marilyn couldn’t be there all day. And when it became time for 24/7 care, my mom was happy to have “her” spend the night.

Of course, the elderly would rather stay in their own home. And it makes sense. Familiarity is comforting when we are less stable on our feet and have trouble reasoning.

If your loved ones demand to age in place, ensure they are there physically and mentally before the aging debilitates. Change is more traumatic for us as we age; it’s harder to let go and start over. Anything new gets very scary for seniors. My father’s assistant was next to him the whole time from when we convinced him to sell the family house to the move of a smaller unit. Caregivers are an asset to easing the transition.

I cannot express the value of finding talented, caring in home care professionals. If you are a long distance caregiver to an aging loved one just like I was, you will find these professionals very beneficial. When you are away from your loved one in their time of need, it is easy to feel guilty, to worry incessantly, and to feel that you are not doing “enough” to ensure your loved one’s comfort, happiness, and safety. The challenge is less stressful when you have a trusted, helpful professional.

The benefit of having a caregiver, when I was away, was that I did not feel as though I was the “bad person” all the time. Marilyn supported me throughout the process. Of course, my father listened to a “third party professional” better than his own children.

During your loved one’s slow decline, another resource to consider is the Village to Village network, which many cities have established. This is a community-based care organization with volunteers who help seniors who are alone at home – they shop, drive, and visit, providing invaluable assistance on many levels.

As 75 million baby boomers in our country enter their 60s and 70s, we have hopefully learned something from caring for our aging parents and can better face the realities of our own “golden years.” We don’t want to be a burden to our own children, and if we don’t have children, we better have a plan in place!

While end of life scenarios involve a gradual decline, with proper planning in advance and professional in home care, as well as utilizing community resources, managing a loved one’s slow decline is possible so that it works for you as well as them.

 

Daughter holding mother's hand on a pink couch at home in Carmel, IN

How Women Can Fight Mental Decline As They Get Older

Close to 13 million women in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease or are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association states that every 66 seconds someone within the United States is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, two-thirds of which are women with Alzheimer’s disease. Women are more likely to experience early signs of Alzheimer’s sooner then males and research illustrate that the cognitive decline linked with the disease is two times faster in women than men.

The cause of the gender disparity is unidentified. The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement lead by Maria Shriver and other organizations are continually searching for why Alzheimer’s has an impact on women more than men and in different measurements. This movement was first launched because of the lack of information focusing on how to combat mental decline in women and their linked risks of cognitive impairment.

While evidence behind why women are more likely to decline in mental health is found between organizations and scientists health, there are some ways to reduce the risk of mental decline in your life to promote a healthy brain and reduce your risk of cognitive decline.

Beverage Choice

A study in March of 2017 found a cup of tea of a day is linked to a 50 percent reduction of cognitive impairment risk of age 65 and older. An astronomical 86 percent of women who drink tea reduce their genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists at the National University of Singapore believe bioactive compounds in tea brewed from any tea leaves contain anti-inflammatory properties that protect the brain from vascular damage and neurodegeneration which may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.

Dance the Night Away

Researchers at the University of Illinois conducted a study in 2017 found that learning how to dance reduces the degeneration of white matter in the brain associated with aging. They found that dancing entails the practice of learning and mastering new choreography, which sequentially engages the memory and focuses functions of the brain. Since dancing serves as another social activity, it can positively boost brain health.

Raise a Glass

One alcoholic beverage a day correlates to the decreased risk of mental decline in women, The New England Journal of Medicine study says.

Why it is unknown that a daily drink can reduce the risk of mental decline, the scientists speculate the cardiovascular benefits known to relate to moderate drinking may transfer to cognitive function.

Train Your Brain

A study conducted in 2018 found that cognitive actions may reduce the risk of mental decline, promoting a healthy brain. The study sampled training exercises, one includes using visual imagery to activate the memory function in the brain to remember names of new people and using relations to remember shopping lists.

Swap Oils

Foods consumed and cooked with canola oil, conducted on mice, links to worsened memory, learning ability and weight gain, which are symptoms found in Alzheimer’s. They found that canola oil increased the formation of plaques in the brain, which can increase the risk of cognitive decline.

On the other hand, the separate research found consuming foods cooked with extra-virgin olive oil preserves memory and helps protects the brain against Alzheimer’s.

Make music

Scientists at Baycrest Health Sciences discovered positive associations between music and brain health. Improved listening and hearing skills are found by learning to create musical sounds, which alters the brain positively. Revamping of the brain is supposed to help us ward off age-related cognitive decline.

Go nuts

A 2017 study from Loma Linda University Health found including nuts to your day on a regular basis strengthens brainwave frequencies linked with cognition, healing, learning, memory, and other key brain functions.

The beneficial recipe for promoting a healthy brain is consuming a variety of nuts.

Pistachios produced the greatest gamma wave response, a function critical for improving cognitive processing, information retention, learning, perception and rapid eye movement during sleep.

Peanuts, a legume-not a nut, were included in the study and found to produce the highest delta response, which is associated with healthy immunity, natural healing, and deep sleep.

Beet it

Drinking beet juice discovered an increase blood flow to the brain. Increased blood flow is thought to be a beneficial way to fight the progression of dementia as well as maintain a healthy brain in those without symptoms of cognitive decline. Beet juice has also been proven to help lower blood pressure, a factor that contributes to heart disease which is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

A mother and her daughter, who is providing long term care for her loved one as she continues to live at home in Carmel, IN

Long Term Care: Providing Home Care for a Loved One Over Time

Aging brings on a whole new set of experiences, joys, and challenges. Many seniors enjoy seeing their children have children of their own. Seniors often have more time for hobbies they enjoy, including spending time with friends and loved ones. However, aging does bring about hardships for many seniors, especially in regards to their health. This difficulty is faced by family caregivers as well.

Providing home care for an aging parent over the long-term can be a challenge. Your parent may not be terminally ill or near the end of their life, but rather they are in a slow decline of health. Their care needs become increasingly advanced and they may not be as physically or mentally strong as they once were.

While caring for a senior loved one with an illness that causes rapid decline is certainly difficult, this situation is different from caring for a loved one who is slowly declining. Caregivers often struggle watching their parent or other loved one lose their independence, personalities, and abilities. For seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, dementia, or Parkinson’s, this type of slow deterioration can be heartbreaking.

Family Caregiver Challenges

For seniors who have been very independent, proud, or active throughout their lives, the slow deterioration of their health can be hard to accept. Many seniors are resistant to accept or ask for help, even when they begin to notice changes in their health. Although it is challenging, it is the responsibility of family caregivers to make sure seniors get the assistance and professional care they need.

When senior loved ones resist or refuse help, you may be tempted to give in to their demands. This can be detrimental to your loved one’s health, especially if they live alone. Don’t wait until an accident, like a fall, or a medical event like a stroke, to start the discussion about home care services. You may want to respect their wishes and independence, but in the end, finding a realistic senior care solution is best for you both.

Benefits of Home Care Services

As your senior loved one age, it is likely that their care needs will become more advanced. Finding a professional in-home caregiver while your loved one is still well enough will help them form a trusting relationship with their caregiver. A major benefit of home care services is that seniors get to remain in the familiar surroundings of their home. Even if your loved one moves into your family home, they still have the benefits of maintaining independence, seeing friends and family as often as they would like, stick to a routine. Avoiding major changes is the best thing for a senior’s overall health and happiness.

A professional home caregiver allows families to spend quality time with one another while Mom or Dad receives the assistance they need. This can help helpful for adult children who have careers and families of their own. Help from an outside caregiver encourages family caregivers to find balance and reduce stress.

Aging is unavoidable and something we will all face. All end of life scenarios involve this gradual decline but planning for the future, working together to make decisions, and knowing when to go for help can make the aging process more manageable and even enjoyable for seniors and their families.

Elderly woman from Carmel, IN painting a picture

Five Ways to Make Your Brain More Resilient to the Early Signs of Dementia

Dementia is a slowly progressing disease, and it can be distressing to witness a loved one experience the different stages of dementia. During the onset of this disease, it can actually be difficult to separate natural memory loss due to aging and early signs of dementia. However, just as we can resist the physical signs of aging through taking vitamins and exercising, there are measures we can take to keep our brains strong and resist the early stages of dementia.

Five Ways to Keep your Brain Resilient

  • Learn a New Language: Studies show that bilingual brains are actually more resistant to dementia – and can delay symptoms of dementia in a person by an average of 5 years while functioning with a greater level of brain dysfunction. The theory behind this phenomenon is that learning multiple languages prompts the human brain to grow new brain cells.
  • Maintain your Social Life: As long as our brains remain active, they will continue growing new cells even as they age. One of the best ways to keep our brains active is through social interaction. Remaining social throughout your life helps you learn new things, exchange information, and reduce anxiety and depression – all of which keeps your brain active and strong.
  • Learn New Skills: When our brains are challenged, they grow new cells to accumulate the new knowledge and changes the way connections are made to keep it active. Every new challenge helps – from small challenges like doing a task with your non-dominant hand to big challenges like learning a new hobby.
  • Exercise & Eat Healthy: Maintaining your overall health through exercise and nutrition will help your brain be more resilient to the early signs of dementia. Your brain will continue to grow new cells if you keep your body healthy through eating nutritious foods, remaining physically active, and getting enough sleep, along with staying mentally healthy through social activities.
  • Be Curious: Asking questions, learning new things and finding new activities to do will keep your brain constantly taking in new information, which will help it grow new brain cells and make new connections. Being curious will help your brain resist the early signs of dementia, so be on the lookout for new things to do in your community. Some ideas are learning to play an instrument, volunteering, joining a book club, and taking a class.

All of these things and more will promote brain health throughout your life but are especially important in the senior years to fight dementia.

 

Valentine's Day Ideas for the Elderly in Carmel, IN

Valentine’s Day Ideas for Aging Adults

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time for seniors to celebrate love with family, friends, and other important people in their lives. Although cards, candy, and flowers are the traditional ways to celebrate the occasion, you can take it further by encouraging your senior loved one to participate in Valentine’s Day-themed activities. Here are some activities your loved one can do on Valentine’s Day. 

Organize Candy Bingo 

All your loved one needs to play this game is a bingo card and chocolate kisses or heart-shaped candy to use as markers. Bingo promotes socialization, which can reduce the risk of anxiety and depression. Playing candy bingo may also enhance your loved one’s listening skills and short-term memory. If your loved one enjoys playing bingo, using candy is a festive way to boost his or her emotional and mental wellbeing while incorporating a Valentine’s Day-theme. 

Social companionship is another way to promote your loved one’s emotional wellbeing. For families living in Indianapolis, Indiana, respite care can be a wonderful solution when their aging loved ones need companionship and socialization a few hours a week or just need minor assistance with daily household tasks. At Home Care Assistance, we thrive on helping seniors maintain their independence while living in the comfort of home.

Cook Valentine’s Day Treats 

Cooking provides many seniors with a sense of joy and accomplishment. This Valentine’s Day, encourage your loved one to cook some delicious treats. You can also teach your loved one how to make new recipes, which can boost his or her thinking skills and memory. Some of the fun and festive Valentine’s Day treats you can make with your loved one include:

  • Valentine’s Day apple bowls
  • Strawberry cake 
  • Chocolate strawberry tower
  • Heart-shaped pancakes
  • Pink sorbet pie 

Play Valentine’s Day Charades 

Playing charades can stimulate your loved one’s mind and increase his or her concentration. While playing Valentine’s Day charades, your family and other participants will need to act out the titles of romantic television shows, films, and songs, in addition to famous romance quotes. This activity can also enhance the brain’s ability to utilize cells and electrical connections that keep neural pathways open and functioning normally, which can keep the mind sharp and stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Arrange a Valentine’s Day Gathering with Family and Friends 

Being social is especially important during the senior years. The more social your loved one is, the higher his or her odds of lowering stress, alleviating boredom, and preventing depression will be. At the gathering, your loved one can celebrate the holiday by watching romantic films, playing games, or completing various Valentine’s Day crafts. You can make the gathering more special by asking everyone to pass out Valentine’s Day cards that are store-bought or homemade. 

Sometimes family caregivers find it challenging to involve their loved ones in family gatherings because of other pressing commitments. If you are the primary family caregiver for an elderly loved one and need additional assistance providing high-quality non-medical senior care, Indianapolis Home Care Assistance can help. We are a leading home care agency committed to changing the way seniors age.

Play “Name That Love Song” 

This fun activity can stimulate your elderly loved one’s mind. While guessing the names of the songs, the music could trigger memories from your loved one’s past. It is important to keep your loved one’s brain active to enhance his or her memory and critical thinking skills. Make sure to play some of your loved one’s favorite love songs to make this activity more enjoyable.

From preparing healthy meals to playing Valentine’s Day-themed games, there are several activities older adults may need help with. In Indianapolis, Indiana, home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. Call us at [hca_phone] today and hire a dedicated caregiver for your loved one.

Reasons Familiarity Is Important in Alzheimer's Care in Carmel, IN

5 Reasons Seniors with Alzheimer’s Need Familiar Surroundings

The way seniors interpret their environment could change drastically after developing Alzheimer’s disease. Living in a new home or environment could cause seniors to become more confused, agitated, stressed, and isolated. However, being around familiar people, places, and objects can ease these emotions. Here are some of the reasons familiar surroundings are important for seniors with Alzheimer’s.

1. Enhances Brain Function 

Alzheimer’s disease causes serious damage to memory and thinking skills, and being in a new place, surrounded by unfamiliar people and things, can make it worse. Although your loved one’s critical thinking abilities may decrease as the disease progresses, being at home could trigger memories and possibly slow the progression of the disease. Seniors are less likely to isolate themselves in familiar surroundings. Being social could keep your loved one’s brain healthy. 

Alzheimer’s and other forms of cognitive decline can make it difficult for older adults to age in the comfort of home. If your elderly loved one needs help maintaining a high quality of life while aging in place, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a trusted provider of Indianapolis home care. Services our caregivers provide include transportation to and from medical appointments and social events, nutritious meal preparation, assistance with daily exercise, and help with everyday tasks like bathing, grooming, and light housekeeping.

2. Provides Comfort

The sounds of the home, the smells of the neighborhood, and the normalcy of personal belongings can be soothing for seniors with Alzheimer’s. They can maintain a schedule in a place they know, which could reduce anxiety and confusion. For example, the sound of a specific television show coming on each day may not seem like a big deal, but it could remind your loved one that it is time to sit down and eat while watching the show. The program could provide a sense of comfort and normalcy, even if your loved one no longer understands the characters or storylines. 

3. Promotes Meaningful Engagement

Many seniors respond better to Alzheimer’s treatment in a positive and familiar environment. They are around the people, places, and things that brought them pleasure prior to the development of the disease. If your loved one enjoyed walking to the local park and watching others play sports, engaging in these activities can lead to sensory stimulation. Even as your loved one’s abilities begin to change, he or she can remain engaged with these familiar surroundings and activities, which could have a positive impact on his or her Alzheimer’s care. 

Though meaningful engagement is an important part of Alzheimer’s care, it’s also necessary to encourage seniors to socialize regularly. For families living in Indianapolis, Indiana, respite care can be a wonderful solution when their aging loved ones need companionship and socialization a few hours a week or just need minor assistance with daily household tasks. At Home Care Assistance, we thrive on helping seniors maintain their independence while living in the comfort of home.

4. Prevents Behavioral Outbursts

Moving from home to an assisted living facility may eliminate some daily responsibilities for seniors, but this is something adults with Alzheimer’s disease might not understand. All they know is that they have been forced to move to a new place full of strangers with no established memories. As a result, seniors may experience emotional outbursts. In familiar surroundings, seniors may be more at ease and less nervous, and it will be easier for family caregivers to manage their behavioral outbursts. Consider hiring an in-home caregiver who can help out around the home, easing the load for you and your loved one. 

5. Minimizes Wandering

Confusion and compulsion are some of the reasons seniors with Alzheimer’s disease wander. Living in a new home could also lead to wandering. When seniors with Alzheimer’s change environments, they are more likely to try everything to get back home, even wandering off and putting their lives in danger. If your loved one is able to stay at home, he or she may feel safe and secure, which could minimize wandering.

Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors to manage without assistance, and it can be just as challenging for families who do not have experience in providing Alzheimer’s care. For trusted Indianapolis Alzheimer’s care, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method was designed to help seniors with Alzheimer’s and other memory-related conditions live happier and healthier lives. To create a comprehensive Alzheimer’s home care plan for your loved one, call one of our professional Care Managers at [hca_phone] today.