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Can the MIND Diet Help Improve Brain Function? – North Shore – North Vancouver, West Vancouver

Maintaining a good level of overall health is generally of great importance to older adults living at home and looking to sustain an independent lifestyle. It is widely known that regular exercise and a nutritious diet create the cornerstone for good health. This is true for both the body and mind, as new studies continue to emerge demonstrating the relation between healthy eating and cognitive function. You may be a bit wary of all these miracle diets that are constantly being promoted to solve various health problems, and improve fitness and appearance. When most people think about diets, it tends to be more about effects on the body. However, the right diet can also have positive effects on the brain. Trendy diets focused on weight loss and improving physical appearance are often void essential nutrients and proteins necessary for providing the brain with the fuel it needs to function at a high level. What is the MIND diet? MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. As the name would suggest, the diet is focused on foods that stimulate cognitive activity to help prevent or delay neurodegenerative decline. The MIND diet combines two diets that have been touted by many experts as being amongst the healthiest on the planet: the Mediterranean and the DASH diets. Mediterranean Diet Most people have heard about the Mediterranean diet and its abundance of purported health benefits. The Med diet focuses on whole foods, and healthy fats and carbs, without sacrificing flavor. Foods to target with a Mediterranean diet, include: Vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, extra virgin olive oil, potatoes, whole grain...

Getting Educated in January for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month – North Shore – North Vancouver, West Vancouver

Cases of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are steadily on the rise in Canada and around the globe. There are currently over half a million people in Canada living with Alzheimer’s, and every day roughly 68 more people are diagnosed with the disease. Canada’s ailing public health care system is not anywhere near equipped to handle the magnitude of this debilitating illness, leaving Alzheimer’s sufferers to turn elsewhere for help and support. One of the best places to get started with dementia awareness is by learning more about how the disease works, and methods and techniques to manage it to minimize damage and cognitive impairment. What is Alzheimer’s Disease? Alzheimer’s is the most widely prevalent from of dementia in Canada, and throughout the world. It is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that directly affects memory and cognitive function. Alzheimer’s disease actively destroys brain tissue, cutting off connections between neurons. This impactful damage attacks various areas in the brain, including the hippocampus which plays a large role in memory function. As the neurodegenerative suggests, the illness gets worse over time and the damage inflicted is irreversible. That is why it is extremely important to catch the disease in its early stages, as soon as possible, to minimize detrimental effects. Preventative Measures to Decease the Risk and Manage Alzheimer’s While Alzheimer’s is not completely preventable, there are certain steps that can be taken and lifestyle practices that can be implemented to ward off the disease and slow its progression. As Alzheimer’s cases steadily increase, and will only continue to rise significantly in the future, it is important to become educated and...

Why is Alzheimer’s Being Touted as Type 3 Diabetes? North Shore – North Vancouver, West Vancouver

If the harmful physical effects of eating too much sugar aren’t enough to scare you off it, then maybe the added negative mental effects will do it. It is widely known that a diet high in sugar intake can lead to type 2 diabetes, among many other physical health issues. The more studies being done on the detrimental effects of sugar are showing that it is also very bad for the brain and cognitive function. Alzheimer’s disease is now being called Type 3 Diabetes because eating an excess of sugary foods can contribute to dementia. High blood sugar levels are directly related to an increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Seniors are at an even greater risk, due to a declining immune system that already has to work much harder to fight off illness and disease. Cutting sugar out of your diet is one of the best things you can do for your health as an older adult. How does sugar affect the brain? Eating too much sugar has several detrimental effects on the brain, including: Memory impairment Increased cognitive decline Diminished ability to recall information Doubles the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Studies indicate that upwards of 80% of people with Alzheimer’s also have a higher level of insulin resistance. Why High Blood Sugar Levels are Bad for the Brain Aside from contributing to physical health problems like obesity, tooth decay, liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, sugar can also cause problems for brain function. Some of the ways sugar can impact the brain, include: Chronic inflammation Excess glucose in brain cells Sugar increases insulin resistance Amyloid...

Memory Problems Should Not be Ignored – North Shore – North Vancouver, West Vancouver

Many older adults are hesitant to visit a doctor about memory issues because they feel it just a normal part of aging. While some degree of memory loss is typical as we get older, memory failure that impacts daily living may be a symptom of the onset of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. The cognitive decline associated with dementia is often quite gradual, so it can be tough to recognize as it is happening. A lot times when memory lapses occur is just chalked up as a “senior moment”. Minor lapses like misplaced keys, or forgetting to pay a bill may seem insignificant, but they could be an indication of a larger, developing condition. Just like the rest of our bodies, our brains begin to deteriorate slowly as we age. Age-Related Memory Loss Mild memory impairment associated with aging, is associated with 3 main elements: Hippocampus Hormones Circulation Hippocampus The hippocampus is the area of the brain associated with memory. This region of the brain actually shrinks as we get older, and so too does the frontal lobe which is involved with high level cognitive function. Hormones Hormone production also tends to decrease with age, and in particular the hormones and proteins responsible for protecting, repairing, and stimulating new neurons, generally decline. Circulation Blood flow often decreases with age as well, as you may have noticed many seniors experience chronic pain or coldness in feet and hands from lack of blood and oxygen. Seniors that don’t get enough physical exercise may have more serious circulation problems that can result in reduced blood flow to the brain, leading to...

Recognizing Early Onset Dementia – North Shore – North Vancouver, West Vancouver

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, and with a perpetually aging population in Canada the prevalence of the disease is growing. Alzheimer’s most typically appears in people over the age of 65. However, some people that have what is known as early onset dementia can begin developing symptoms in their 40s and 50s. A diagnosis made for early onset Alzheimer’s is rare because most believe dementia is only for the elderly, and something else must be causing the symptoms. There are several warning signs to be on the lookout for, if you suspect a family member may be exhibiting behaviors of early onset dementia. Warning Signs for Early Onset Dementia Many of the symptoms of early onset dementia are quite similar to the traditional strain of the illness, but often less pronounced, making them more difficult to detect. Some warning signs to pay attention to, might be: Subtle memory differences Mood swings Difficulty with routine tasks Mild confusion Trouble expressing themselves Repetition Disorientation Problems adjusting or adapting to new situations Slight Changes in Memory Everybody knows that dementia affects the memory. But with early onset Alzheimer’s, memory changes are generally quite subtle and gradual. Most memory issues for people with early onset dementia are to do with the short-term memory. For example, always misplacing things, or forgetting what they are doing in the moment. Mood Swings Abrupt changes in mood are common with early onset dementia. It may not be noticeable to the person it is happening to, but other people may be able to notice a difference. Depression is frequently a symptom of early onset dementia....

The Magic of Music for Seniors with Alzheimer’s – Vancouver and North and West Vancouver

Listening to music can help with memory stimulation in seniors with Alzheimer’s. Just the simple little act of listening to a few bars of a familiar song can be so magical that our minds are taken to other places and feelings of nostalgia are sparked, calling up memories of the past, and evoking powerful emotions.  Music Has Magic Research that has been performed in recent decades offers deeper insight into the nature of Alzheimer’s, and this research has been able to show that music can yield positive outcomes for brain activity and memory in seniors. The following list is made up of some of the reasons researchers think music aids the minds of seniors dealing with Alzheimer’s: Evoking Emotion and Memory: Music can bring on emotions that come with powerful memories. Incorporating music into activities throughout the day can help to facilitate the formation of new memories and associations through hearing and making connections to new songs, while familiar songs can provide seniors the chance to reminisce. In this way music can help both to call up happy memories from the past, and improve cognitive ability and daily rhythm over time. Positive Emotions: Music can change people’s moods in ways that can help to minimize feelings of stress or anxiety, and increase happiness. Hearing a song that has an upbeat tempo or one that is connected to a positive memory can bring joy into a senior’s day, while soothing songs can have an equally powerful calming effect. Bringing People Closer: Feelings of connectedness can be more challenging to reach when Alzheimer’s is involved, but when seniors still have some...