A growing number of medical researchers say that leisure activities that challenge the mind— like learning music, playing cards, knitting, and woodworking—can prolong healthy brain functioning.
“We used to think that you were born with all the nerve cells you were ever going to have, and all you could do over your lifetime was lose them,” explains Guy McKhann, MD, founding director of the Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Institute at Johns Hopkins University.” Well, that is wrong. You do make new nerve cells.” Mental challenges activate underused nerve pathways and connections in the brain. This, in turn, prompts the brain to produce growth molecules.
The result? A person’s mental abilities, including memory, remain sharper longer. “In some cases, even mild forms of what we call a brain exercise have been shown to give you about six or seven additional years of cognitive ability,” says Lawrence Katz, Ph.D., a professor of neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center.
The connection between certain types of activities and reducing the risk of dementia has been widely reported.
Here are some ideas to give your brain a workout:
Think in new ways….
Any activity that forces you to think in new ways – requiring you to solve problems, use your imagination, or make associations with information you already have—stimulates the brain.
Change your routine.
“There are ways of living your everyday life that are more brain healthy than others,” he says. “Part of that is making small changes in your routine, so you’re not doing the same thing over and over.” Katz says that actions that break a routine activity in an unexpected way — like shopping at a farmer’s market rather than in the same supermarket every week—can increase brain agility.
Turn off the tube.
“Watching TV is relaxation, not brain exercise,” says Katz. “The passive state of being fed information through your visual system is literally mind-numbing.”
Surprise your senses.
Activities that engage your senses in new ways also qualify as brain exercise, says Katz. For example, cooking or gardening simultaneously engage sight, sound, touch, and smell. “It’s very difficult to make generalizations because for different people, different things are going to work,” says Katz. What’s important is that you do something regularly rather than nothing.
Reprinted from www.aarp.org
As August sees a mass exodus from the offices, most of us envision trading in responsibilities for a glass of wine and a good read. Yet, not all of us are so lucky.
Who works 24 hours a day without benefits, compensation or holidays? Family caregivers do.
Taking a break from the ceaseless responsibilities of being a family caregiver is essential, say many health professionals. Family caregiving is a demanding job, highly stressful and seemingly unrewarding. Family caregivers need a vacation, too!
Vacations are essential ‘mental breaks’ needed to come down from the day to day stresses of a busy, overworked lifestyle. Vacationing once or twice a year helps us feel rejuvenated and refreshed. Family caregivers often don’t get an opportunity to be free from the responsibility of caring for another for years at a time. They either don’t have that choice or don’t know what services are available to help them get the time off they need.
Here’s how family caregivers can take a much needed vacation:
- Respite care is a service that provides the family caregiver with a much needed break from around-the-clock responsibilities. Bringing your loved one to a facility for a respite holiday is an option, but many find uprooting mom or dad from the comforts of home for a week leaves them nervous and worried more than relaxed.
- In-home caregiving services can provide a vacation respite, as well as scheduled weekly respite afternoon to live-in and 24 hour care. With professional caregivers who can cook the meals, clean, do laundry, assist with the responsibilities of daily living and even companionship, this is really a break for you and your loved one. Another benefit of homecare is scheduling a transition period before the vacation to familiarize with the professional caregiver and routines.
- Asking another family member to take over the responsibilities is a good option, provided there is someone who is capable and willing.
- A vacation with your loved one is not really an option for family caregivers to get the rest and rejuvenation they need, but it can sometimes be a good second-best consideration.
Reliable homecare provided by Premier Homecare Services is a cost-effective solution for many, ensuring your elderly parents’ wide range of needs are met and helping you get that vacation you deserve. Ask about our respite services.
Getting the Most from Your Homecare Agency – Premier Homecare Services Blog
When Elderly Parents want to Stay at Home – Premier Homecare Services Blog
Who Needs a Vacation? Family Caregivers! – Huffington Post
The headlines are fading, but not the pain felt by those touched by the recent C. difficile outbreak in Southern Ontario. Those headlines talked a lot about the importance of hand washing and maintaining a clean hospital environment as a course of action against the spread of the disease. Does this not seem a bit like shutting the barn door after the horse is out? Infections will never be completely eliminated, but taking a closer look at methods of prevention could help. Prevention, as a rule, results in less expense and more importantly, reduced human toll.
If you dig around in those news articles on C. difficile, you may or may not come across the mention of the overuse of antibiotics as a major contributing factor to this deadly disease. The Health Canada website states, “The use of antibiotics increases the chances of developing C. difficile…” This is due to the fact that it alters the normal levels of good bacteria found in the colon and intestines, which creates an optimum environment where C. difficile can thrive.
Seniors, due to their often weakened immune systems and the fact that they may be receiving antibiotic treatment as a matter of course, are one of the most vulnerable sectors. Is there another way to protect them? How can the barn door be shut before the horse escapes?
When Quebec was hit by a devastating outbreak between 2002 and 2004, they looked at options that did not include prescribing ever more antibiotics. In fact, they took the exact opposite approach, they reduced the over use of antibiotics and in 2005 implemented a set of guidelines for the medical community on the proper use of antibiotics. In 2004, at the time of the outbreak, Quebec had 23% lower antibiotic consumption per capita than the rest of Canada. Since implementing the new guidelines, prescriptions have dropped 4.2%, while the rate in the rest of Canada has increased by 6.5%.
While researchers look for other ways to treat the infection once it has struck, some hospitals in Quebec began to look at ways to prevent the outbreak from ever happening. In one such hospital, over a 7 month period, 20 elderly patients died due to C. difficile. A study had shown that treatment with probiotics cut the risk of infection. The hospital decided to prescribe a probiotic to all patients who were receiving antibiotic treatments. Since implementing this protocol cases dropped dramatically and the hospital has only recorded 2 C. difficile related deaths since that time.
Karen Madsen is a professor of medicine at the University of Alberta, who studies probiotics. In regards to the administration of probiotics to elderly patients on a regime of antibiotics she states, “It’s extremely low risk, it’s inexpensive and if you use the right probiotic at the right dose, there’s evidence that it significantly reduces the risk of contracting (C. difficile).” “So it’s a no-brainer, really.”
Perhaps Ontario should also consider alternative options to keep the barn door shut!