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The Best Way for Seniors to Grow New Brain Cells

In her lab at King’s College London, neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret studies how new brain cells are created in the adult nervous system through a process called neurogenesis. This phenomenon is unique to the hippocampal region of the brain, an area that is involved in memory and mood. Through her research, Thuret hopes to discover how we create new nerve cells throughout our lives, how food, activity and other factors affect this growth, and how diseases such as Alzheimer’s impact our brain’s ability to continue growing new cells.

The primary function of the hippocampus is to consolidate short-term memories into long-term memories, but it also plays an important role in spatial navigation, learning, mood and emotion. It is estimated that 700 new neurons develop in the hippocampus daily; by the time we are 50 years old, all of the neurons in our hippocampus will be completely new, replacing the ones we developed as children.

The creation of these new nerve cells is important for learning new memories, as well as the capacity and quality of memories. Neurogenesis has also been found to lower levels of depression. Antidepressants decrease symptoms of depression while increasing neurogenesis, proving a clear link between the two. This is likely a result of the hippocampus being closely tied to mood and emotions.

So the question to ask is: Can we control how many nerve cells our brain creates? We know from our Balanced Care Method™ that one-third of our healthy longevity is based on genetics and two-thirds on lifestyle factors within our control. Fortunately, the same concept can be applied to neurogenesis. Learning and physical activity increase neurogenesis, while stress and sleep deprivation decrease it.

Create new memories and brain cells at Safari Nights in Dallas

One way to take control your life and grow your brain is to create new experiences at Safari Nights at The Dallas Zoo. The whole family will enjoy some of the zoo’s wildest stars, live music and tons of entertainment. Pre-concert activities include special keeper chats, the Wonders of the Wild show, a School of Rock concert and an Animal Adventures presentation. Live bands include the Grammy-winning Rebirth Brass Band from New Orleans and the ultimate 10-piece party band, Limelight.

Event details:

  • July 2 to July 30, 7:00 p.m. (CST)
  • 650 S. R.L Thornton Fwy, Dallas, TX 75203
  • Cost: Ages 12-64, $15, ages 3-11 and seniors, $12, children 2 and under FREE
  • Parking: $8 per vehicle

Uncovering the Brain Benefits of “Music & Exercise”

Although the media continuously publicizes new research around Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, there is still a large amount of uncertainty around the disease, how it progresses and ways in which individuals can delay its symptoms. Scientists have long preached that staying active, having hobbies, and creating strong social ties promote brain benefits and may help stave off cognitive decline. While there is currently no known cure or proven way to prevent Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, recent research suggests that music & exercise may help delay symptoms of dementia and help the brain resist damage over time.

A study conducted by Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, assistant professor of neurology, radiology and imaging science at Emory, revealed that those who played instruments before the age of nine had better verbal and working memory functions than individuals who started playing music later and individuals who had never picked up an instrument.

Furthermore, in an earlier study, Hanna-Pladdy also found that musicians who had been playing music for a minimum of ten years—even if they stopped playing altogether after this time frame—performed better at memory processing and flexibility activities than those who had never played an instrument.

Though there are currently no studies suggesting that teaching older adults to play an instrument would have the same effect as those individuals who started playing at a young age, the implications are significant given that researchers already know that music has a positive effect on people with dementia.

Listen and learn at “Music & Exercise for a Healthy Brain and Body”

Various brain benefits can be acquired through a good diet, sunlight exposure and other healthy lifestyle practices like attending events for your health. Recent advancements in neurological research have proven the effectiveness of music therapy in improving our physical & mental health. Please join us for a class led by board-certified music therapist Carolyn Dobson. The class will consist of hands-on, cognitive function, speech and vocal skills. Class is free and open to the public but space is limited. For more information or to RSVP, please call (214) 559-5402 or email kshankle@belmontvillage.com.

Event details:

  • July 1, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • Belmont Village Turtle Creek, 3535 North Hall Street, Dallas, TX75219 United States

The Shocking Effect of Diabetes on Brain Health

Worldwide, 387 million people are living with diabetes with numbers expected to increase to 592 million in the next twenty years. If left unmanaged, diabetes can have serious effects on the heart, kidneys, nerves and teeth and puts the individual at an increased risk of stroke and dementia. Now, a new study has found further evidence of diabetes’ impact on brain health by reducing blood flow to the brain and causing cognitive decline in older adults.

Vera Novak, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and her colleagues studied sixty-five participants, aged 57 to 75 years old, for two years – about half of the participants had type 2 diabetes. MRI scans and blood tests monitored inflammation and blood flow in the brain and tests evaluated cognitive functioning of the participants over the two-year span.

The research group found that participants with diabetes had greater declines in gray matter volume and rates of blood flow to the brain. The diabetic group also performed worse than the non-diabetic group on cognitive tests assessing their daily living functions and executive function, or higher-level thinking that includes reasoning, problem solving, judgment and cognitive flexibility.

The researchers also found that diabetic participants who were on medication and took control of their blood sugars saw the same effect as those who did not, raising concern for the effectiveness for current treatments. Novak and colleagues are now looking into medications that work to improve blood vessel activity in diabetics and prevent future cognitive decline.

Boost brain health with “Mindshare” in Dallas

For the senior community of Dallas, Texas, finding local resources to boost brain health can have lasting effects. One upcoming opportunity is the “Mindshare: Brain Smart University” event on June 25. Visit the Friendship West Baptist Church, get memory tips and research updates from healthcare experts like Dr. Mary Quiceno, Core Leader of Alzheimer’s Disease Center at UT Southwestern. Seating is limited. Call 1-800-272-3900 to register or sign up online at alz.org/greaterdallas.

Event details:

  • June 25, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • 2020 West Wheatland Road, Dallas, Texas , Dallas, TX 75232

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

Take Care of Your Health with In-person Visits and Medicare/Medicaid Counseling

Technology affords us unparalleled convenience – we can check in on Mom or Dad frequently with a quick phone call or text message even if they live hundreds or thousands of miles away. However, recent research has found that remote communication does not compare to in-person visits when it comes to preventing depression in older adults.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, analyzed data from over 11,000 adults over the age of 50 who were part of the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Survey between 2004 and 2010. The data looked at how often the participants interacted with family and friends using four different methods: in-person, telephone, e-mail or written letter. Symptoms of depression were then assessed two years later.

Results from the study revealed that older adults with minimal in-person contact doubled their risk of depression. Only 6.5% of participants who had in-person contact three times a week were at risk for symptoms of depression, while 11.5% of participants who had in-person contact once every few months were at risk. The frequency of phone calls, emails and letters had no effect on the risk for depression.

Taking this a step further, the research team found that for adults aged 50 to 69 years old, frequent in-person contact with friends lowered their risk of depression, while adults aged 70 and older saw the most benefits from in-person contact with family. About 7% of the world’s senior population suffers from depression, though depression is often under-diagnosed. Past research has suggested that lack of social interaction is a major contributor to depression among seniors.

Healthcare counseling at the Dallas Area Agency on Aging

Talking face-to-face to a professional about your health issues requires the right resources, like an affordable and extensive medical insurance plan. For those who need one, your local community is here to help! The Dallas Area Agency on Aging will have a bilingual (Spanish/English) Benefits Specialists available for individual counseling on Friday, June 24, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. No appointments needed. Stop by the West Dallas Senior Center and get your healthcare strategy on track today!

Event details:

  • Friday, June 24 at 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • 2828 Fish Trap Rd., Dallas, TX 75212

Recent MIT Research Shows that Brain Functions Improve with Age

The myth that aging means inevitable cognitive decline is a common misconception. As a part of our mission to change the way the world ages, Home Care Assistance of Dallas hopes to dispel these myths around aging and focus on the positive side of growing old. Another proponent of positive aging, Sandra Chapman, Ph.D., Founder and Chief Director at the Center for BrainHealth, casts light on one of the benefits of aging with her article, “The Potential of the Aging Mind”, which highlights research on how some brain functions actually improve with age.

Research led by Joshua Hartshorne from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology took a unique approach by looking at what brain functions make up intelligence as opposed to viewing intelligence as a single measure. The study examined specific mental functions and found the age at which each function peaked. For instance, they found that memorizing facts such as names, dates and places peaked in fifteen to eighteen year olds, whereas working memory, or the ability to retain new information and use it at a given time, peaked in individuals in their mid-20’s. Out of the need for more experience, emotional intelligence and vocabulary don’t peak until decades later.

With age comes resilience at Dallas’s OEM

With age comes a diversity of knowledge and experiences that explain the popularity of the adage, “old and wise”. Furthermore, the senior citizens of Dallas can apply their wisdom at local events in their area. The city’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has launched a new Disaster Resilient Citizens Program. This 90 minute workshop offers participants information about the key elements of emergency preparedness and engages neighborhood leaders and citizens in a series of activities and discussions on what it means to be prepared for emergencies, how to create disaster resilient neighborhoods, and how to help their families and neighbors recover. If you are interested in hearing more about this topic, please call the District 12 council office at 214-670-4067.

Event details:

  • Thursday, June 16, 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • 3810 Timberglen Rd, Dallas, TX 75287

Celebrate Successful Aging with Positive Thinking!

The number of people living to age 100 has nearly doubled in the past three decades and with longer lifespan comes a shift in focus on promoting wellness in our extended years. Our mission at Home Care Assistance of Dallas is to change the way the world ages, helping older adults enjoy longer, happier and healthier lives into their later years through community education and innovative programs based on cutting-edge research in the health and senior care fields. It’s time to celebrate successful aging with positive thinking in Dallas!

The Balanced Care Method is built on evidence that only one-third of healthy longevity is based on genetics while two-thirds is based on lifestyle factors within our control! This balanced approach allows older adults to live longer, happier lives by focusing on five key behaviors correlated with extended healthspan: diet, physical exercise, active social ties, mental stimulation and a sense of purpose. To truly fulfill our mission, we thoroughly train our caregivers in the Method, ensure consistency of care and provide 24/7 support to each client and his or her family.

Our commitment to healthy aging does not stop there. We believe that providing the resources to empower people to make proactive decisions about their health will help them make better lifestyle decisions, and ultimately, improve their overall quality of life. We have published seven books as a part of our award-winning Senior Wellness Book Series, which features topics on aging, healthy longevity, brain health, sleep quality and more. This widely acclaimed series has been praised by families and professionals alike as the go-to resource for seniors and their loved ones.

Use the power of positive thinking in Dallas

By exposing our clients and the greater international community to resources from a diverse spectrum of health and wellness fields, we are able to engage and empower people to make proactive and healthy decisions. On Sunday, June 12, please visit the “Positive Thinking: Create the Life You Want” event in Dallas, TX. The best or worst place to live is in your own mind. Seeing your life from a positive perspective changes the way you think, which changes everything. You can choose to be positive: to think, see, feel and act in new and healthier ways. As you let go of negativity, you will start to be grateful and positive in word, thought and deed, resulting in your ever-increasing happiness and peace of mind. You will begin to create the loving, joyful, prosperous, healthy life that you want.

Event details:

  • June 12, 2016 at 2:00 p.m.
  • 4801 Spring Valley Road, Dallas, Texas 75244

3 Outdoor Summer Activities that are Perfect for Older Adults in Dallas

Summer brings sunshine and fresh air, but for seniors who have mobility issues, the simple act of venturing outside can be difficult. Depending on the activity, going outdoors can help relieve boredom, increase vitamin D from sun exposure and boost physical exercise resulting in happiness and improved overall well-being.

Here are 3 outdoor summer activities in Dallas, TX! Try one with your loved one today!

1. Plant a garden

Seniors who need to use canes, walkers or wheelchairs may feel frustrated or inconvenienced in crowded public places. Planting a garden in the privacy of his or her backyard is a simple way to get your loved one outdoors without the stress of venturing too far from home. Planting flowers, fruits or vegetables will also give him or her something to look forward to as he or she watches the seedlings grow.

2. Eat or read outside

Another convenient outdoor activity is to move a meal outside when it is cooler in the early morning or early evening. It could even be a picnic! This change of scenery will create an enjoyable and calming environment. Being outside in the fresh air is also said to increase concentration, making it an ideal place to read a book, which also promotes brain health.

3. Attending a local event

During the summertime, there are plenty of free, outdoor concerts, plays and other events to attend. Look up your city’s calendar of local events and allow your loved one to pick the one that interests him or her the most. Arrive early to accommodate your loved one’s seating needs. If he or she is in a wheelchair, try sitting closer to the front to improve the visibility of the performers. If your loved one uses a cane or walker, bring collapsible chairs so that he or she can sit easily if needed.

Free Community Health Fair in Dallas, TX

When it comes to local healthcare and wellness events, our staff members at Home Care Assistance of Dallas know exactly where to go. On June 11 between 9:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., be sure to attend the free Community Health Fair at Brookhaven College. There will be free flu shots, blood pressure checks, hearing tests, vision checks and much more!

Event details:

  • June 11, 2016 from  9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
  • 3939 Valley View Lane, Dallas, Texas 75244

How Can Dallas Innovations Help Improve Heart Health?

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death worldwide even though most cases are preventable. To help our local Dallas community, Home Care Assistance is sharing the latest study on how positive text messages can encourage heart-healthy choices as well as some tips to kick-start your own heart-healthy regimen.

The study, published in JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association), explored the benefits of positive mobile notifications, such as text messages, and their effect on lifestyle modifications for disease prevention. The Tobacco, Exercise and Diet Messages trial included 710 participants with coronary heart disease who were, on average, 58-years-old. All participants received regular care while only half were in the interventionist program and received four text messages a week for six months.

The research team looked at low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels, known as the ‘bad cholesterol’, as well as systolic blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), physical activity and smoking status. After six months, the team found that LDL-C levels were lower in the intervention group that had received the text messages. This group also had lowered systolic blood pressure and BMI, improved physical activity levels and a significant reduction in smoking levels. Participants in the intervention text message program said the messages were useful, easy to understand and appropriate in frequency.

The Pulse innovation breakfast series in Dallas

Our Dallas, TX home caregivers make a dedicated effort to support research and innovation. For example, The Pulse is a local innovation breakfast series connects entrepreneurs, medical professionals, and innovators from the DFW healthcare and business communities. It puts you at the forefront of healthcare innovation with networking and insight into the latest healthcare startups. On Thursday, June 9 at 7:30 a.m., visit the Health Wildcatters’ HQ and see featured speaker Justin Smith, M.D., the director for Primary Care Innovation at Cook Children’s Health Care System.

Event details:

  • June 9, 2016 at 7:30 a.m.
  • 211 N Ervay St, Dallas, Texas 75201

Decrease your risk of diabetes with Vegan Noms in Dallas

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar, or when the body cannot use the insulin it produces. If left unregulated, diabetes can lead to nerve damage and may even affect brain health. The effects of diabetes are widespread: in 2014, 9% of all adults over the age of 18 had diabetes; this statistic increases with age.

Being overweight or obese also increases the risk of developing diabetes. To reduce this risk, experts recommend cooking more meals at home. In a recent study, researchers asked 99,000 men and women about their eating habits over three decades. They found that those who reported eating two of their meals at home lowered their risk of developing diabetes by 13% on average compared to those who had fewer than six meals at home each week.

Homemade meals are healthier because they are typically made without processed foods and the unhealthy fats served in many restaurant dishes. However, no matter where you prepare and consume your meals, it is important to remember to practice mindfulness when eating and to balance your energy intake with your physical activity.

Vegan Noms in Dallas, TX

The hourly home caregivers of Dallas, TX also care about their community’s healthy diet. Come celebrate the start to summer at the Vegan Noms food truck and catering‘s ongoing event series, “Noms and Namaste!” Each event will feature all-level yoga and the shop opens for sale too. Yogis will get a treat bag filled with Noms goodies and more. Customers can come in and sample summer flavors, including Lemon Coconut Cookies and Margariate Cupcakes! Stay tuned to their social media for upcoming dates!