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Combat Loneliness, Depression and Alzheimer’s Disease with New Harvard Research

As we age, it is important to take care of both our body and our minds. Mood disorders, including depression, have been linked to cognitive decline and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older adults. Here we explore these findings and tips to combat loneliness, a major contributor to depression in individuals 65 and older.

The study, led by research teams from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, used data from over 8,300 adults aged 65 and older participating in the U.S. Health and Retirement Study. Participants in the study underwent regular testing every two years from 1998 to 2010. Tests recorded their levels of depression, loneliness, memory, cognitive function and social network status. Of the 8,300 participants, 1,400 reported loneliness at the beginning of the study and about half of the 1,400 also reported clinical depression.

By the end of the 12-year study, the research team found that participants who had reported loneliness experienced cognitive decline at a rate 20% faster than those who had not reported it. Individuals who had reported clinical depression also had an increased rate of cognitive decline. These findings suggest that depression and loneliness are correlated with an increased risk of cognitive decline over an extended time.

Stay social at the Summer Solstice Wellness Fair in Dallas

Engaging in social networks, whether it’s a gardening group, bridge group or just a local event with friends, can help fight depression and loneliness but can also become increasingly difficult as mobility and transportation issues arise with age. On Saturday, June 25, be sure to visit the Summer Solstice Wellness Fair, which starts at 2 p.m in Dallas, TX. Hosted at the Continental Truck Driver Training School, attendees will sample some amazing products that will enhance and improve your well-being.

Event details:

  • Saturday, June 25 at 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. (CDT)
  • 6614 South R. L. Thornton Freeway, Dallas, Texas

Can Blueberries Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

Chemical compounds in blueberries have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. However, the American Chemical Society recently reported that research reveals certain chemical compounds in blueberries that may also help in the fight against Alzheimer’s. The following details explain why Dallas Alzheimer’s caregivers should supplement their loved one’s diet with this super fruit.

Blueberries contain antioxidant compounds that inhibit the effects of free radicals, which contribute to the aging process and cellular damage. The berries also contain anthocyanin flavonoids. These chemical compounds have demonstrated the ability to improve cognitive function during studies performed using laboratory animals. A team of researchers from the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center led by Dr. Robert Krikorian determined to evaluate the effects blueberries flavonoids might have on humans.

The first study involved 47 adult volunteers with a minimum age of 68. All of the participants exhibited symptoms of mild cognitive impairment and were considered to have a high risk for developing Alzheimer’s. The group was then divided in half. Half of the adults received daily doses of freeze-dried blueberry powder, which equals one cup of fresh blueberries. Meanwhile, the control group was given a placebo. After 16 weeks, the blueberry group had measurable improvement in language, concept, and memory skills. MRI studies indicated that previously affected areas of the brain also displayed increased brain activity.

A second study was conducted on 94 people aged between 62 and 80. Though the participants did not have observable cognitive difficulties, the subjects felt that their memories were declining. Researchers divided the volunteers into four separate groups who either received blueberry powder, fish oil, a combination of blueberry powder and fish oil, or a placebo. At the end of the study, individuals who received the blueberry supplement or the fish oil demonstrated slightly improved cognitive ability. Despite these developments, their memory skills were virtually unchanged.

Dr. Krikorian explained that the supplements might have greater potential in seniors exhibiting more advanced symptoms. The team plans to continue their research and report that future studies would involve volunteers in the 50 to 65 age group.

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are diets, medications, and even programs that may prevent or delay it. Home Care Assistance is a reliable home care agency Dallas seniors can trust to provide premier Alzheimer’s and dementia services in the comfort and familiarity of home. Not only do our compassionate caregivers work with our clients to establish healthy eating and exercise habits, but they also help seniors with cognitive disorders exercise and sharpen mental acuity to delay dementia symptoms. Call us at (214) 253-8784 today to learn more about our services and schedule a complimentary in-home consultation with a knowledgeable Care Manager.

4 Cognitively Engaging Activities for Seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease

One way to help delay the progression of certain Alzheimer’s symptoms is to keep seniors cognitively engaged. If you’re a family caregiver looking for ways to help your elderly loved one, try incorporating some intellectually stimulating activities into his or her daily routine. The following are four activities that experts at Dallas Home Care Assistance recommend to help stimulate cognition among seniors with Alzheimer’s.

1. Arts and Crafts

For many seniors with Alzheimer’s, activities that require creativity can help delay cognitive decline. If your elderly loved one enjoys making gifts by hand, arts and crafts can be a fun and productive way to stay mentally engaged.

2. Baking and Cooking

Cooking and baking, which require careful reading and attention to detail, are good activities for seniors with Alzheimer’s who live at home. While certain symptoms of the condition can make working in the kitchen dangerous, the assistance of a Dallas in-home caregiver can promote a senior’s sense of purpose and help him or her contribute to his or her own care.

3. Crossword Puzzles

Though these puzzles can be challenging, easy crossword puzzles can help jog seniors’ memories and prompt them recall information to boost their self-confidence. Since simpler puzzles will be easier to solve for most seniors, working on and completing a puzzle may help enhance their sense of accomplishment, while simultaneously exercising their cognitive skills. Many Dallas Alzheimer’s care services include similar games and puzzles in their programs.

4. Reading Newspapers

Keeping up with current events by reading the newspaper can be a useful way for seniors to stay intellectually stimulated. Reading is shown to activate several areas of the brain at once, which is an important exercise for a senior’s mind. By simply reading parts of the newspaper while eating breakfast each morning, it can make a big difference.

Dallas Home Care Assistance provides inclusive care programs for seniors with Alzheimer’s, including our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method. This program incorporates a series of mentally stimulating activities that focuses on language, memory, attention, and visual-spatial perception to enhance life quality and delay cognitive decline. For more information regarding flexible as-needed care in your area, call us at 214.363.3400. We look forward to hearing from you.