Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month – 6 Tips to Improve Brain Health

Written by:

Jeffrey Grossman

Published:

June 28, 2019


Did you know June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness month? We put together a guide to help you and your loved ones understand the importance of brain health. No matter your age, brain health is very important!

Middle-aged people tend to have the most brain changes or cognitive decline. The earlier you adopt these tips into your lifestyle, the better. As we age, our risk of mild cognitive impairment increases. While this may just lead to the occasional forgetting a word or where you placed something, mild cognitive impairment can lead to Dementia and/or Alzheimer’s down the road.

The Importance of a Healthy Brain

Brain health should be your top priority because our brains control how we think and act. Our brains regulate the well-being of our entire body, inside and out. According to Your Brain Matters, scientific research has shown that leading a brain healthy life may lead to a reduced risk in developing Dementia later on in life. Additionally, other illnesses may also be reduced such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Healthy Brain, Healthy Life

Below are some tips to help make sure you are doing everything you can for yourself or a loved one to have the healthiest brain possible:

  1. Stay Connected. Socialize, socialize, socialize. Engage in conversation with others and spend time with family and friends. Isolation can often lead to depression and cause forgetfulness.
  • Join a club to engage in a hobby with others.
  • Schedule a weekly coffee date with a friend.
  • Attend a social event or gathering.
  • Go shopping and talk with people in line.

2. Eat Healthy. Remember what you put in your body affects every single organ. Your brain needs different nutrients to work best. You can get these from various foods:

  • Eat foods high in antioxidants (beans, berries, nuts).
  • Lower your intake of saturated fat. 
  • Limit fried and sugary foods.

3. Rest. Easier said than done, right? Rest is essential for your brain’s overall health. 8 hours of sleep per night is ideal; but good, quality sleep during those hours is the real recipe for rest.

  • Avoid using electronics before bed.
  • Allow your body time to relax before bed.
  • Take a warm bath.
  • Make sure your room is a comfortable temperature.
  • Use blackout curtains or blinds to block out light.
  • Use a white noise machine to block out sound.

4. Take Control of Chronic Illnesses. Many people don’t realize a healthy brain starts with a healthy heart. Make sure you have your weight, diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure under control. Always take medications as prescribed and at the appropriate times. Not properly taking care of or prioritizing your physical health can lead to brain issues down the road.

5. Workout Your Body. You don’t need to run 10 miles a day to keep your brain happy and healthy. Find an activity that you enjoy to get you moving. A few, simple ways to stay active include:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Taking a brisk walk

6. Workout Your Brain. Keeping your body active is important, but keeping your mind active is just as critical. Think of your brain like you do your muscles; if you don’t use them, you lose them. Your brain can’t have new cell growth if it’s not being challenged regularly:

  • Read up on current events.
  • Challenge yourself to crossword puzzles.
  • Play games (e.g. Sodoku math puzzles).
  • Read books.

How Home Care Can Help

As stated earlier, our bodies begin to develop a cognitive decline over time. Declines can be gradual or sudden, but a customized plan is necessary for proper care. If you or a loved one has received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or Dementia, we are here to help.

At Commonwise Home Care, we provide specialized care plans tailored to each individual’s specific needs. A personalized care plan may include help with socialization/companionship, food preparation, controlling current illness, and medication management. All of these are key to keeping the brain healthy.

Home care can also assist someone who is just starting to show early signs of cognitive impairment. To find out how Commonwise can help put together a care plan that’s right for you or a loved one, please call 434.202.8565 today.

Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month – The Need for Personalized Care

Written by:

James Jennings

Published:

June 25, 2019


June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. The focus for this month is on supporting those living with Alzheimer’s and/or Dementia, recognizing their caregivers, and raising awareness within the community about both diseases. People living with Alzheimer’s or Dementia need a personalized care plan, adjusted accordingly as their needs change. Before we dive into why personalized care is so important, let’s look at some crucial facts, statistics, and definitions for Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Alzheimer’s Facts:  (www.alz.org)

  1. 5.8 million people live with Alzheimer’s (by 2050, the projection jumps to 14 million).
  2. Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
  3. Alzheimer’s is the 5th leading cause of death of those 65 years and older.
  4. 5.6 million of those suffering from Alzheimer’s are over the age of 65.
  5. Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of disability and poor health.
  6. 1 in 3 seniors will die as a result of Alzheimer’s and/or Dementia.
  7. Every 65 seconds someone develops the disease.
  8. Only 16% of the senior population receives regular cognitive exams.
  9. No cure or prevention is known for either disease.

What is Alzheimer’s/Dementia?

Dementia is a group of symptoms that affect thinking and memory. Many different kinds of dementia exist, including:

  1. Alzheimer’s
  2. Lewy Body
  3. Frontotemporal
  4. Mixed Dementia
  5. Parkinson’s

Alzheimer’s is the continuous deterioration of neurons in the brain. Both Alzheimer’s and Dementia can begin slowly, then cause a rapid decline. One of the first signs of Alzheimer’s is when someone begins forgetting small things. Eventually, more telling signs start to occur:

  1. Have trouble finding the right words.
  2. Mood swings.
  3. Disorientation and wandering.
  4. Lack of self-care.
  5. Behavioral issues.

Note: If someone has Alzheimer’s, they have Dementia. If someone has Dementia, they may not have Alzheimer’s.

The Importance of Personalized Care

Providing personalized care to someone with an Alzheimer’s or Dementia diagnosis is not only beneficial, but critical. While no one knows your loved one like you do, the staff providing care can get to know them; and vice versa. Intentionally investing in each client allows caregivers to create a personalized plan to better care for them.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia can change over time, meaning caregivers must be constantly aware and adjust as needed. Whether the care plan calls for 24-hour care, or just a few hours a week, qualified staff are there to help. You can be sure your loved one is receiving exactly what they need during each stage of the disease process.

Safety, Always

No matter where your loved one is on their journey, safety is always our main concern. Wandering, getting lost, forgetting to take medications, taking the wrong medications, leaving the stove on, and forgetting to clean up a spill are just a few of the dangers that can be found around the house.

A professional caregiver can assist in removing these hazards, making sure the house is as safe as possible.

Meal Preparation 

Small tasks become difficult and even hazardous as the disease progresses. Quite often, a person with Alzheimer’s/Dementia can forget to prepare a meal, or even eat. A professional caregiver can take that stress away by preparing each meal for your loved one.

Additionally, professional caregivers work directly with physicians ensuring your loved one is getting the right amount of nutrients to meet their personal needs.

Various Everyday Tasks

Personal hygiene, transportation, laundry, etc. Tasks that once were easy become a challenge for those suffering from Alzheimer’s/Dementia.

Professional caregivers make sure your loved one gets to and from doctor’s appointments safely and has an advocate present. Even simple things, such as getting regularly bathed and dressed in clean clothes, are what professional caregivers are there for. Whatever is needed on a daily basis to keep your loved one happy and healthy is our job.

Planning Ahead

Every person is unique, which is why a personalized care plan is essential for those with Alzheimer’s/Dementia. Whether your loved one needs 24-hour, live-in care, or just a few hours of help per week, Commonwise is here to offer professional, individualized care.

Call 434.202.8565 to find out more about how Commonwise can put together a personalized care plan for your loved one today.

National Safety Month: Fall Risk & Prevention

Written by:

Jeffrey Grossman

Published:

June 21, 2019


June is National Safety Month so it only seems appropriate to talk about elderly fall risk and prevention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 4 adults (65 and over) will have a fall; 1 out of 5 falls will lead to a serious injury. Falls by the elderly often lead to hospitalizations, loss of independence, and in some cases, may be fatal.

Falls can be a very traumatic events. After just one fall, an elderly person may become fearful of recurrent falls. The memory of a fall tends to limit older adults from engaging in future activities and socialization. As a result, decreased mobility, depression, social isolation, and a feeling of losing control is common.

Why is the elderly population at such a great risk for falls? Multiple factors play into the risk of falling. Some risks are preventable while others can be managed with support. Take note of the following, common risk factors leading to elderly falls.

Common Fall Hazards at Home

Some of the most common risks that can lead to falling at home include:

  • Rugs
  • Slippery floors
  • Uneven stairs
  • Clutter
  • Improper footwear
  • Misuse of walking aide equipment (walkers and canes)

Common Conditions Increasing Fall Risk

A decline in mobility and certain diseases/conditions can also increase the risk of an older adult experiencing a fall. When an elderly person has a hospitalization, they are more likely to lose muscle strength, causing them to be imbalanced. Common conditions that have the potential to lead to a fall include:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of vision
  • Heart disease
  • Alzheimer’s/dementia
  • Low blood pressure
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Common Medications Can Increase Fall Risk

Common medications in the older adult population can pose a higher risk of falling. Even over the counter medications, such as those used for cold or flu symptoms, can play a part in falls.

As we age, our bodies take longer to break down medicines. Over time, medications have a greater chance of interacting with each other. Even if taken at different times, drugs can linger in the body causing negative interactions. Common side effects include dizziness, sleepiness, and confusion.

4 Ways to Prevent Elderly Falls

So what are some ways to prevent and manage falls?

  1. Improve the home’s environmental factors. Rugs can be taken out and clutter cleaned up. Look into adding grab bars by the shower and toilet, and installing brighter lights around the house. Get fitted for proper shoes with non-skid bottoms. Make sure you are using the right walking aide for your condition, and are educated on the proper way to use it.
  2. Talk to your doctor about evaluating your risk of falling. Be sure to keep your physician updated on all medications you are taking and have them review all potential side effects.
  3. Schedule an annual eye appointment. You should see an eye doctor at least once per year. As we age, our eyesight can decline quickly. Certain diseases can also cause a loss in healthy eyesight. Do not overlook any changes your eyes may be experiencing.
  4. Exercising and working on balance. Staying active and practicing balance exercises can greatly reduce the chance of elderly fall risks. Even simple leg exercises can make a big difference. Make sure you always get up slowly, especially if you have low blood pressure.

Whether you are coming from hospital to home or had a recent fall, exploring home care assistance is critical in elderly fall prevention. Home care can offer help with transfers, medication management, meal preparation, housework assistance, and getting proper medical equipment.

Commonwise’s Care Managers help families navigate fall risk prevention. Call 434.202.8565 to schedule a Fall Risk Prevention Consult.

National Safety Month: Medication Safety

How to Use Medication Safely

Written by:

Jeffrey Grossman

Published:

June 20, 2019


Medication Safety is an important topic to cover during National Safety Month. As we age, we tend to add more and more medications to our drug regimen. Adding medications may increase the risk of drug interactions. The older we are, the harder it is on our bodies to break down and process these medications. Whether you are the one on multiple medications or caring for someone who is, medication safety is something we can all use more education on. Below are seven important tips to help you or a loved one when it comes to medication management.

Tip #1: Be your own medical care advocate. Keep communication open with your doctor, pharmacists, and whoever helps in your healthcare. Know what medications you are taking and ask questions about them. Here are some important questions to ask:

What does each medication do?

What are the side effects?

What do I do if I miss a dose?

What interactions should I be aware of while taking this? (e.g. foods, alcohol, other medications)

When should I take them?

Tip #2: Don’t take medication prescribed to others. Only take what your doctor or healthcare provider prescribes. Taking someone else’s medicines can cause dangerous reactions.

Tips #3: Keep a list. Have an updated list of all medications, even over the counter, vitamins, and supplements, as well as what time you take each daily. Post this list on your fridge or somewhere in the house where you can see it every day. Also, take a copy of your list with you to medical appointments as a reference point. Even something as ordinary as Tylenol should be noted.

Tip #4: Always take your medications exactly how your doctor/pharmacist recommends. Be sure to familiarize yourself with how each medicine should be taken and when. Alcohol, certain foods, and other medications/supplements can have scary interactions with your current medication regimen. It’s important to know the potential side effects!

Tip #5: Review your medication regimen frequently with your doctor and healthcare provider. Even if you have been on a certain medication for some time, keep your doctor updated. Any changes or side effects you may be noticing is important for healthcare providers to know in order to make adjustments. Remember, just because a condition is not listed as a side effect does not mean the medicine is not causing your health issue.

Tip #6: Never ever stop taking a medicine without consulting with your doctor. The same goes for adding medicines/supplements/vitamins. If you are having trouble paying for your prescription, ask your physician if a generic version is available.

Tip #7: Find an advocate. In addition to having an updated list of all medications, you should keep a trusted family member or friend informed. Establishing someone close who is up to date on all of the medications you are currently taking creates a safeguard. In case you become incapacitated or are unable to speak for yourself, you have an advocate who knows your needs.

Medication management can be overwhelming, especially if you are caring for someone on various types of medication. Home care can help in all aspects of medication management; from putting medications in a medication organizer/pill box, to training family members on medications, and even being there to remind someone when to take their pills.

To learn more about Commonwise Home Care or medication management, you can speak to us directly at 434.202.8565.

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