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Googling On The Internet Can Help Fight Dementia

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 30, 2010

UCLA medical researchers, when presenting to the Society for Neuroscience, reported that middle-aged and older adults with little Internet experience showed increased activity in key brain regions after surfing the Web for an hour a day for just two weeks. It's the simple experience of seeking new information and keeping your brain engaged that stimulated activity in multiple areas of the brain. Playing Sudoku or pursing new hobbies offer similar benefits. But those subjects studied by UCLA who choose the Internet for mental stimulation tended to stay engaged the longest.  According to Dr. Gary Small, the Internet offers immediate access to an unlimited range of social and intellectual resources that results in the Internet often enticing long-term sustained attention of the young and old alike.

According to the study, surfing the web may help older people ward off dementia and slow cognitive decline. It's not yet clear whether the brain improvements are temporary or not, but the important lesson is to keep the mind engaged and challenged however you do it. Becoming involved in new things and keeping your brain active are all hallmarks of activities that would tend to preserve your cognitive skills and these are all things that searching the Internet for new information really does.

So at Spring Arbor, we encourage our Residents and their families to get their cherished senior loved ones "net enable". Of course, regarding Residents and loved ones of diminished mental capacity, prudent supervision is absolutely critical. We all know the unscrupulous lurk out on the net, but the same tools that are used to monitor the youth's use of the Internet can be employed to protect our seniors.

The Internet can open doors to renewed acquaintances, genealogy, games, history, hobbies, and anything else you can imagine. With free online tools like "Skype", Grandma and Grandpa can have instant and free voice and video to their loved ones no matter where they reside on earth. The bottom line is the Internet offers the opportunity for our seniors to stay in touch and engaged. And no matter what the specific on line activity is, all researchers involved in this study agree that mentally stimulating activity (such as internet use) is beneficial to mental health.

Give Tai-Chi a shot if you have trouble sleeping

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, July 28, 2010

According to a study conducted by researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles, elderly people who practice tai chi sleep better than those who do not.

Researchers asked 112 healthy adults between the ages of 59 and 86 to fill out a questionnaire based on a Sleep Quality Index, which rates the duration and quality of sleep, over the course of one month. Participants were then assigned either to practice 20 simple tai chi moves, or to take part in health education classes to learn healthier sleep, diet and stress management habits. After 25 weeks, the participants took the sleep survey again:

People in the tai chi group showed significant improvement on measures of sleep quality, duration and disturbances in comparison with the control group.

Poor sleeping constitutes one of the most common difficulties facing older adults. Over 58% of people aged 59 or older have sleeping difficulty on at least a few nights per week. However, 85% of these cases, the problem goes untreated. Those who do receive treatment are usually given sedative drugs, which can have dangerous side effects.

Tai chi, in contrast, improves health in general. And unlike other forms of exercise with similar health benefits, tai chi is composed of gentle, flowing movements that are not difficult or dangerous for the elderly. It's a form of exercise virtually every elderly person can do, and this study provides more across-the-board evidence of its health benefits. It's also a great bonding exercise for younger adults to practice with their seniors.

Are Dementia And Alzheimer's the same

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 26, 2010

Dementia And Alzheimer's: Are They The Same?

There are two terrible afflictions that are increasingly affecting our society today, and constantly in the media: dementia and Alzheimer's. While these two conditions are an unfortunate occurrence, there is help out there. And doctors and researchers are working hard to try and find a cure. But we can all be thankful that there are places like Spring Arbor Living that care enough to help the elderly with these afflictions and do what they can for their families.

While both dementia and Alzheimer's are similar in nature they are not exactly the same. What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer's? Well, dementia is a syndrome, a collection of possible symptoms a person has. For instance if you have 3 out of 9 symptoms, you could have Dementia. The variation of possible symptoms is huge and that is one reason why no person with dementia is alike.

The main difference between dementia and Alzheimer's is the fact that Alzheimer's is a disease. The disease targets your brain and will cause damage to the brain. The damage caused to the brain will be shown as memory loss, verbal speech problems, behavioral problems and other symptoms. These symptoms will over time qualify for a diagnosis of Dementia. At Spring Arbor we take this into special consideration. We know that each individual is different and we can adhere to those special needs.

Meditation Can Help The Elderly

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 23, 2010

Practicing meditation everyday can help elderly people by connecting with their spiritual self and deriving immense happiness in its purest form. Elderly people practicing meditation can experience pain relief as well. Our thoughts and emotions are reactions to pain. With experience, meditation can help you separate the feeling from the actual pain. When we become aware of the pain, and acknowledge it, we can control our reaction to it. Through meditation, we can change our perception, and cope effectively with pain. Since meditation also reduces stress, it relieves the tension in the muscles and decreases blood pressure. Meditation improves circulation of blood within the body, consequently alleviating body pain.

Meditation can help cure a variety of old age diseases such as cancer, chronic illness, heart disease, high blood pressure, emphysema, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, ulcers and insomnia. It can reduce depression, anxiety, stress and pain. Meditation can significantly increase life expectancy. It helps to balance the physical, mental and spiritual states and is simple to perform. It has been proven to reduce the body's core temperature, which in turn can prolong life expectancy. Moreover, meditation can strengthen the immune system, and reduce harmful hormones and biochemical compounds present in the blood stream. This alternative therapy should therefore be practiced by elderly citizens, to bring happiness, relaxation and health in their life, without the burden of any side effects.

Potassium Is Important For Elderly

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 22, 2010

There are many important vitamins and minerals the elderly should eat such as vitamin D. One of the more important minerals is potassium. It is important then for the elderly to eat food rich in potassium and everyone who takes care of them should be knowledgeable about it.

An average-sized body may contain about 5 ounces of potassium. With the help of sodium and calcium, potassium helps keep your heart healthy as it maintains the normal heartbeat, aids in maintaining the normal balance of water in the body, and as a result, it helps conduct nerve impulses and muscle contraction. Kidneys are responsible in controlling the blood levels of the minerals and help the body get rid of excess urine.

Potassium deficiency is also easy to prevent because this mineral is present in almost all foods. Potassium rich foods include whole grains, lean meat, beans, green leafy vegetables and fruits such as bananas and oranges. Eating these foods will help the body gain the needed amount of potassium and help you stay active and healthy.

A Fun Pastime That Never Gets Old

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 16, 2010

Arts and crafts has been a favorite of many seniors, even in their younger days. And for the elderly that enjoy arts and crafts, the opportunity to learn a new hobby is often appealing. Others prefer to continue activities they enjoyed during their earlier years. Most arts and crafts activities can be modified or adapted so the elderly with physical limitations can still enjoy a favorite pastime. One of the most popular arts and crafts activities for the elderly are ceramic projects. Many ceramic activities only need light sanding and painting, resulting in a beautiful and rewarding finished piece. This type of project is a wonderful way for seniors to pass the time either at home or at senior centers while creating a lovely keepsake or gift for a loved one.

Depending on personal preferences and physical abilities, the following arts and crafts are favorites of many senior citizens.

  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Sewing
  • Knitting
  • Crocheting
  • Photography
  • Scrap-booking
  • Making greeting cards
  • Sponge painting stationary
  • Woodworking projects such as building birdhouses or making clocks
  • Making foam magnets
  • Flower arranging

Walking Is A Good Exercise And Has Great Benefits For Elderly

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's best to start doing easy exercises without putting any undue strain on your body. Starting exercises with great intensity can put excessive pressure on your muscles and ligaments with a chance of strain. Among the simple exercises, walking is the best and most suitable for all categories of older people. You can start walking at a comfortable pace for a short distance. After few days, increase the length of your walk and your intensity to brisk walking. There are similar exercises also, which can help maintain your overall health. For the elderly, the benefits of exercise include lower incidence of depression, reduced chance of dying prematurely, increased alertness, improvements in blood pressure and other cardiovascular benefits, and reduced risk of diabetes. Seniors who exercise regularly typically remain independent for a longer period of time.

An ideal session should start with a warm up session of five minutes. Slow walking and stretching prove to be good warm-up exercises. Thereafter, exercise briskly for a good thirty minutes. Finish off with a cooling session of five to ten minutes. It is best to exercise on all days of the week. If possible and your health permitting, you could do strength training or resistance exercises twice each week. Strength training has been shown to keep the bones strong, besides of course, the muscles. However, not everyone can do these, for each individual is different. Make sure you speak to your physician before doing any new exercise.

Videogames: How They Have Helped My Father's Memory

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 08, 2010

I was reading an article the other day about videogame systems and how they help people with memory disorders. One game in particular, the "Brain Training" game, was developed at the Uchida Hospital in Kyoto.  The game system offers a host of number games, word puzzles and reading exercises. I dug further into it and found that the Uchida Hospital (who specializes in all forms of dementia research) made the gaming consoles available to patients. Within one year, patients realized on average a 42% increase in brain activity.

So video games aren't just for children.   I suggested to Dad that we give video games a try.  He balked at first, but has come to really appreciate video games.  Computer cross word puzzles have become his favorite.  He finds the computer screen easier to read than paper and he no longer has to wear our pencil erasers.  Best of all, he's now spending less time idly watching T.V. in lieu of meaningful mental exercise.  And that's good medicine for all of us.   

Early Indicators of Alzheimer's Disease

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Alzheimer's Disease is a tragic illness that robs victims and their families of years of happiness by slowly destroying the mind and personality of the person afflicted. This illness afflicts more than 5 million Americans each day. Although there is no cure yet, there are professional care facilities and drugs available to treat symptoms and delay progression of Alzheimer's if it is diagnosed early. According to the Alzheimer's Association, the ten warning signs are:
o Memory loss
o Difficulty performing familiar tasks
o Problems with language
o Disorientation to time and place
o Poor or decreased judgment
o Problems with abstract thinking
o Misplacing things
o Changes in mood or behavior
o Changes in personality
o Loss of initiative

Of course anyone can have a bad day and suffer one or more of these afflictions.  It is frequency, degree, and multitude of such signs that serve as a genuine warning sign and create the imperative to seek professional medical evaluation.  Luckily, with the increasing concern and awareness of Alzheimer's Disease, early detection is on the rise and to the direct benefit of the patient.  Early detection is the single most contributing factor in protecting quality of life.  

The professionals of Spring Arbor Living and The Oaks Residential Assisted Living centers take great pride in preserving the quality of life of our residents who suffer from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.  We humbly consider ourselves to be on the cutting edge of care.  We are truly thankful for the opportunity each day to celebrate the lives of every resident we serve……regardless of circumstance.  

My 82-Year Old Dad, Fireworks, and the NFL Combine

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 01, 2010

I’m getting prepared for the annual argument with my 82-year old Dad.  Once again he’ll make a play to be the one to light the “monster” roman candle while celebrating this 4th of July. I honestly believe he pictures himself at the NFL combine, running “the 40” for time, in a tee-shirt that identifies his playing position…..”GGP”…..Great Grandpa.  He’ll admit (once again) that although he’s “lost a step”, he’s still  “faster than me running from a Waiter with the dinner bill”.  

Once again I’ll shame him about wanting to “steal a thrill from one of the older kids”.  He’ll mumble under his breath, clearly communicating to me…..”KILL JOY”!.  And I’ll laugh…..even louder than last year….…….