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Brain Health, Heart Health and Mobility

Terry Lingmann

While attending a Mid Stage Alzheimers conference last week, it was confirmed to me what a horrible disease Alzheimer’s or dementia is.  God bless the victims and even more, the caregivers who must suffer it.

On a positive note, I discovered that there are ways to help and improve the quality of life of the patients and care givers.  It was explained that there is a correlation between heart health, brain health and dementia.  It is important that your heart is healthy physically and emotionally so that your brain can function as well as possible. The heart and the brain are more closely associated with each other than we may realize.  An unhealthy heart, physically or emotionally, could have a negative impact on the brain.

One tip to help gladden your heart and lift your spirits each day is to have bright lighting in your living spaces.  This is no doubt,  good advice for everyone.  Set the mood, make it bright, not gloomy.

One major factor in having a healthy heart is being physically active and in some way giving our heart exercise.  Get that heart beating faster! (with doctor approved exercise)  This applies to all, young or old, active or not-so-active.

Physical activity can improve memory by increasing both blood to the brain and brain volume. 1

The Brain needs blood flow:2

  • The brain depends on oxygen and adequate blood flow to work well
  • 25% of the blood from every heartbeat goes to the brain

Relevant factors:

  • Regular physical activity can reverse age-related decline
  • Safe stretching, strengthening muscles and endurance exercises are beneficial
  • Exercising regularly will maintain or improve your balance and flexibility

I asked the instructor about patient mobility and how important is it for a dementia patient to be able to stand up easily in order to move around.  He said “on a scale of one to ten, that is a ten!”

An important part of patient mobility, or anyone’s mobility after sitting, has to do with the ability to stand up easily, with minimal discomfort. This is why furniture risers are great tools to help in this area.  By raising furniture, such as recliners, loveseats or sofas about three inches, it helps a person with some disability, to stand up easier. 

It is common for people who have arthritis or back problems to experience pain when standing.  Others with disabilities such as dementia or Parkinson’s disease often lack sufficient muscle strength to stand easily.  Furniture risers enable these people to stand up easier and more comfortably, to move about whenever they desire.  This freedom to stand at any time, increases the potential for more mobility and exercise.

Furniture risers have an additional benefit to help people stand easier who are tall (i.e. people 5’7” or taller) or, when the furniture sitting height is too low (see diagram).

A great slogan by the Alzheimers Association can maybe help all of us; “Live Abundantly Every Day.”

A side note about vitamin D and bone related disabilities:  If you’re not absorbing a generous amount of sunlight each day, and/or not getting ample vitamin D in dairy products, you may be vitamin D deficient.  Vitamin D is usually in oil form found in a capsule and helps your body assimilate calcium which is essential for healthy bones, teeth, etc.  If there is a possibility that you are deficient in this vitamin, check with your doctor.  It is easy to take a vitamin D and additional high quality calcium supplements.

Notes:

  1. Alzheimer’s Association; The Brains Behind Saving Yours, flyer, 3/23/16 p3.
  2. Alzheimer’s Association; Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body, course slides 


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