Tag: aging

How Aging Adults Can Maintain Their Mental Acuity

Aging is associated with or linked to a host of mental and physical side effects. For example, many adults expect their vision to deteriorate as they grow older. Such a side effect can be combatted with routine eye examinations that may indicate a need for a stronger eyeglass prescription, a relatively simple solution that won’t impact adults’ daily lives much at all. While physical side effects like diminished vision might not strike much fear in the hearts of aging men and women, those same people may be concerned and/or frightened by the notion of age-related cognitive decline. Some immediately associate such decline with Alzheimer’s disease, an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys memory and cognitive skills, ultimately compromising a person’s ability to perform even the simplest of tasks. But age-related cognitive decline is not always symptomatic of Alzheimer’s disease. Learning about Alzheimer’s and how to maintain mental acuity can help aging men and women better understand the changes their brains might be undergoing as they near or pass retirement age.

Is Alzheimer’s disease hereditary?

The National Institute on Aging notes that only a very rare form of Alzheimer’s disease is inherited. Early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease, or FAD, is caused by mutations in certain genes. If these genes are passed down from parent to child, then the child is likely, but not certain, to get FAD. So while many adults may be concerned about Alzheimer’s because one of their parents had the disease, the NIA notes that the majority of Alzheimer’s cases are late-onset, which has no obvious family pattern.

Can Alzheimer’s disease be prevented?

Studies of Alzheimer’s disease are ongoing, but to date there is no definitive way to prevent the onset of the disease.

How can I maintain mental acuity as I age?

Researchers have not yet determined a way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but adults can take certain steps to maintain their mental acuity into retirement.

• Exercise regularly. Routine exercise may be most associated with physical benefits, but the NIA notes that such activity has been linked to benefits for the brain as well. For example, a 2011 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America found that aerobic exercise training increases the size of the hippocampus, leading to improvements in spatial memory. The NIA also notes that one study indicated exercise stimulated the brain’s ability to maintain old network connections and make new ones vital to cognitive health.

• Read more. Avid readers may be happy to learn that one of their favorite pastimes can improve the efficiency of their cognitive systems while delaying such systems’ decline. A 2013 study published in the journal Neurology by researchers at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center found that mentally active lifestyles may not prevent the formations of plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but such lifestyles decreases the likelihood that the presence of plaques or tangles will impair cognitive function.

• Stay socially connected. Maintaining social connections with family, friends and community members also can help women prevent cognitive decline. Epidemiologist Bryan James of the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center studied how social activity affected cognitive decline, ultimately noting that the rate of cognitive decline was considerably lower among men and women who maintained social contact than it was among those with low levels of social activity.

The idea of age-related cognitive decline strikes fear in the hearts of many men and women, but there are ways for adults to maintain their mental acuity well into their golden years.

Hospice FAQ & Local Links

*Hospice of Washington Co. Inc. – “Hospice of Washington County, Inc. is committed to serving our community by empowering patients and families to provide quality end-of-life care and grief support for those coping with a life-changing loss.”

*Lutheran Home Care & Hospice –  Lutheran Home Care & Hospice, Inc. is a not-for-profit, faith-based provider of home health care, home health telemonitoring, hospice, in-home support and grief support services throughout south central and northeastern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland.”


Sometimes patients succumb to a disease, in spite of the best treatments and support. When the time comes for a family to confront a loved one’s declining health, hospice care can be a dignified way to make that person’s final days as comforting as possible.

Hospice is a type of care designed to make the final moments of a person’s life as pain-free and manageable as possible. It can take place in a medical facility, but very often hospice care occurs at home or wherever the ill person feels most comfortable.

Hospice care is usually the last step when all other options have been exhausted. Making the decision to move a loved one tohospice care can be an emotionally wrenching time. Decisions such as these may be better made at a time in a person’s life when he or she is not sick. That is why living wills that spell out details for end-of-life care can be quite valuable. Decisions are made with a level head and not wrought with emotions. Such living wills also can take the pressure off of family members who may not feel comfortable making such decisions on their own or in concert with relatives.

whitelilyHospice is a type of care and a philosophy that focuses on the palliative care of terminally ill patients. Rather than providing medication to try to treat the illness, medicine is offered to make a person more comfortable and remove any pain. Psychological therapy may also be offered to help the person come to terms with the end of life. Although hospice is a concept that has gradually evolved since the 11th century, the principles of modern hospicecare can trace their roots to the 1950s and Dame Cicely Saunders, a nurse and social worker who is known as the creator of thehospice movement.

If hospice care is outlined in a dying person’s living will or expressed wishes, there are some guidelines that can be followed by the sick individual.

* Visit various medical care centers to see if away-from-home options provide the care and environment you desire. If Be sure to establish what type of hospice care you prefer. This may include care within a nursing home or hospital, or in the comfort of your own home.

* Sign a medical durable power of attorney. This signed document gives authority to an adult age 18 or older, who then has the right to make necessary medical and healthcare decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated.

* Clearly indicate your wishes regarding resuscitation. A signed document may alert emergency healthcare personnel or others of your wishes not to be resuscitated. This document must be signed by you and a doctor and witnessed by others.

* Decide on the duration of care. Hospice care generally lasts six months. This enables a long stretch of palliative care. Should you live beyond the time period, hospice care can continue. Studies have shown that patients who receive hospice care for at least 30 to 60 days gain greater benefit than those who are placed inhospice only in their final days.

* Investigate financial options for hospice. Medicare and Medicaid provide hospice coverage in 44 states. Many private insurance plans have a hospice benefit as well. Understand how payment is made to figure out if private funding will be necessary.

Not all hospice programs are the same. Certain core models of care are followed by many hospice facilities, but options vary. Hospice can provide comfort in a person’s final days and help sufferers.


Power of Positive Attitude

A balanced diet, exercise, genetics, and even certain medications can work in concert to make a person healthy. But a person’s demeanor also can factor into personal health.

The Mayo Clinic says that whether or not a person is an optimist or a pessimist can affect many areas of his or her health and well-being, and those who see the glass as half-full may ultimately be healthier than those who see it as half-empty.

Positive thinking can make it easier to manage stress. The body responds differently based on an individual’s mood, and it may produce stress hormones if a person’s outlook is negative. Such stress hormones can compromise the immune system, increase blood pressure and even reduce the body’s ability to burn fat effectively. Thinking negatively and being on edge also can increase a person’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease and aging prematurely.

Conversely, maintaining a positive attitude can be good for your health. Studies have shown that thinking positively can lower rates of depression and anxiety, increase life expectancy and provide greater resistance to certain illnesses, such as the common cold. A 2012 preliminary study from researchers at Stanford University found that daughters of mothers suffering from depression were able to witness their own stress levels go down on a real-time brain scan as they switched from negative thoughts to happy ones.

Researchers are unsure why positive thinking has such profound effects. But in addition to limiting stress-releasing hormones, positive thinking may inspire people to live healthier lifestyles that make them more likely to get routine physical activity and eat a healthy diet. Happy people also may be less likely to use tobacco products or alcohol as a coping mechanism when dealing with elevated stress levels, and such people will not have to deal with the side effects that can come with these unhealthy behaviors.

Becoming a more positive thinker can take a little effort for those without a natural inclination for optimism. But because positive thinking boasts such significant health benefits, men and women might want to try the following methods to embrace their optimistic side.

* Exercise. Start an exercise regimen, as physical activity naturally reduces stress and can improve mood.

* Embrace humor. Surround yourself with others who bring a smile to your face. Look for ways to laugh as much as possible. Rather than go out to dinner or a bar with friends, head to a comedy club. Choose comedies at the movie theater and find humor in everyday happenings.

* Identify areas that need change. Think about moments in life that may bring you down or inspire negative reactions. If work is problematic, figure out ways to make it better and work toward improving the situation.

* Be supportive of yourself. Consider what you would say to others and then treat yourself the same way. Would you be overly negative or derogatory toward a complete stranger? Probably not, and there is no reason to be harsh with yourself, either. Push negative thoughts away.

* Volunteer. One way to see the world in a more positive light is to help others who may be less fortunate than you. Volunteering not only helps others, but it also can help you put your own problems in perspective. Volunteering also helps you feel good about your efforts, which can translate into positive thinking.

* Think like a child. Take a cue from youngsters and find joy in the little things. Let children be the leaders in activities and mimic what they do. You just may find yourself laughing more and enjoying yourself. Being silly for a little while is one way to recapture the feelings of youth.

Positive thinking is more than the subject matter of self-help books. It’s a viable way to improve personal health and live longer.


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Maintain a Sharp Mind

Many people know that a combination of a healthy diet and routine exercise is the best way to maintain their physical health but what about mental well-being? Memory lapses are often assumed to be an accepted side effect of aging, but such an assumption is incorrect, as there are many steps men and women can take to maintain their mental acuity well into their golden years.


exercise· Find time for cardiovascular exercise. Cardiovascular exercise can help men and women maintain healthy weights and reduce their risk for potentially deadly ailments like diabetes and heart disease. But cardiovascular exercise also can boost brain power. Cardiovascular exercise pumps oxygen-rich blood to the brain, and that blood contains glucose that can fuel brain cells.

· Find time for friends and family. Many people need no reason to socialize, but those that do can now cite boosting brain function as a great reason to get together with family and friends. Routine socialization can keep a brain sharp by reducing its levels of cortisol, a potentially destructive hormone brought on by stress.

· Squeeze in a nap every so often. Naps can have a reenergizing effect on men and women, but a study from German researchers also found that naps also can improve memory.fish

· Include fish in your diet. A study from researchers at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center found that people who eat fish once per week have a 60 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who do not include fish in their weekly diets. Researchers credit this lower risk to DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that is found in both the brain and in fish such as salmon and tuna.


(This article contains excerpts from metrocreativeconnection.com #HM151843)