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What is Senior Lifestyle’s Approach to Brain Health and Dementia?

senior lifestyle brain health dementia

Worldwide, 50 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Increasingly, science says that better brain health, social wellness and heart health can decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

At Senior Lifestyle, our goal is to help those we serve live life to the fullest, so we strive to maintain and improve the brain health of our residents by providing creative outlets, clubs tailored to individual interests, outings designed to entertain and educate, and opportunities for our residents to simply socialize in a comfortable, welcoming environment.

We take a holistic approach to the well-being of our residents, knowing that overall good health and positive social interaction provide a host of benefits.

What is Dementia?  

Dementia is not a specific disease, but a general term describing cognitive decline that is severe enough to impair a person’s ability to manage daily life. There are a wide variety of symptoms associated with dementia, with memory loss being the most recognizable; however, memory loss alone does not mean that a person has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

Additionally, there is no one singular test for dementia; doctors may make a diagnosis of dementia based on a physical examination, a careful review of medical history, specific changes noted in everyday behavior, as well as laboratory tests.

For a diagnosis of dementia, at least two of the following mental functions must be significantly impaired:

  • Memory
  • Communication and language
  • Ability to focus and pay attention
  • Reasoning and judgment
  • Visual perception

How Do We Promote Better Brain Health?

Better brain health can be achieved in a variety of ways. Picking up a new hobby, participating in mentally stimulating activities like games of strategy, or taking a class with challenging subject matter are all opportunities to flex your brain and decrease the risk of dementia.

Senior Lifestyle’s Brain Health University, a 2012 ALFA Best of the Best award winner, presents residents with a unique opportunity to learn more about subjects that intrigue them in a setting that fosters personal growth and provides a great opportunity to make new friends with similar interests.

The program offers 30 different courses designed to enhance cognitive function and promote social interaction. Upon completion of 18 courses, residents receive a certificate of graduation and a celebratory event. Unlike a traditional course at a university, laughing, cracking jokes, and even passing notes aren’t just allowed–they’re encouraged.

Why we Believe Social Interaction is Important

Seniors reap the benefits of positive social interaction in a number of ways, from increased social and emotional well-being to improvements in physical and cognitive functions. At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that for many, social interaction is a basic part of everyday life, and since studies have shown that social interaction provides a multitude of health benefits for seniors, we provide opportunities for residents to engage in social interaction daily.

Knowing the resident’s hobbies, passions, and interests encourages the care partners to build deep bonds and lasting friendships with their residents. Our dedicated and compassionate staff is always there to provide encouragement and ongoing support for residents to help promote social interaction.

Since social wellness reduces the risk of age-related memory loss, improving brain health and providing a boost to self-confidence, seniors who feel confident that their wit and memory remain sharp are more apt to continue with social activities and to have a positive attitude toward social interaction.

Research shows that socially active seniors have a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease as well as rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. While isolation has a negative impact on our immune systems, social interaction and a feeling of connectedness provides a positive effect, a boost that helps us avoid illness as well as emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression.

In addition, our award-winning Walk With Me program provides a personal yet comprehensive approach to easing the transition for our residents with memory loss by connecting each family with a care partner, helping to increase social wellness within the resident’s family.

Why we don’t just Focus on the Mind

The heart and mind connection has been the subject of recent studies showing that a healthy heart helps lower the risk of dementia and memory loss. Heart disease and dementia share several risk factors, so protecting your heart also helps to protect your brain health.

Angelos Halaris, MD, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine notes that roughly half of the people battling heart disease develop depression, while people with depression are two to three times more likely to develop heart disease, noting that the connection can be a difficult cycle to break.

“People know that their livelihood and life is in danger, and that becomes a major stress factor in the life of that individual, so we start going around and around in circles,” he says.

Current research indicates that cutting risk factors for heart disease by establishing lifestyle changes like healthy eating habits and exercise routines can help to ward off not only heart disease but dementia as well. At Senior Lifestyle we encourage healthy habits that promote heart and brain health by offering daily exercise classes, dining options that incorporate fresh ingredients and opportunities to learn more about a healthy lifestyle.

Schedule a Tour at Senior Lifestyle Today

At Senior Lifestyle, the overall well-being of our residents is always a top priority. Our health and wellness, dining and programming teams work together to provide opportunities to maintain and improve the quality of life for those we serve. To learn more about a Senior Lifestyle community in your area, please visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com and schedule a tour today.

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