Living a healthy lifestyle is important for both caregiver and loved one. Many of the same things that keep you physically healthy also keep your brain healthy.
Get active. Physical activity reduces the risk of dementia. If dementia should appear, physical activity keeps the mind working better longer. Even with severe dementia, exercise is important—“better than any dementia drug,” experts say. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity five or more days per week.
Exercise your brain. The brain is a muscle and it needs to be exercised and challenged too. Mental activities like puzzles and games, taking new classes, and traveling to new places all appear to slow down memory loss. As dementia increases, the challenges change from doing new things to maintaining old skills. However, the need for challenge continues.
Eat healthy. Include fatty acids, colorful fruits and vegetables, and the right supplements in your diet. Many studies have found that a Mediterranean-style diet based on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil, and fish is good for protecting against dementia. It may also decrease symptoms once dementia is present. For more about nutrition, read this blogs LBD and Nutrition five part series, starting 95/13, or either of the Whitworth books.
Maintain your friendships. Staying socially active appears to be as important as mental activity. We are social animals and we tend not to do as when we are isolated. Find ways to get out and visit with others regularly. Find someone to sit with your loved one at least once a week so you can get out with others. This serves a double purpose. Your loved one needs to socialize with someone besides you too. When you can’t get out, use the telephone and internet to make contact with others.
De-stress. Tension, anxiety, and worry become toxins to the brain dealing with even early dementia. They slow it down and increase other LBD symptoms. Do everything you can to make your family’s life calm and stress-free.
Go Alternative. Use alternative therapies instead of drugs whenever possible, especially for stress management and acting out. These are safer and often much more effective. An added benefit is that they usually include personal attention. For example, a relaxing massage can not only de-stress but also be a form of communication as can applying a soothing topical oil to decrease joint pain. Singing can include the whole family. And pets can be something to talk about as was as an ever-present sources of comfort.
Find more about LBD in The Caregiver's Guide to Lewy Body Dementia and Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson’s and Other Lewy Body Disorders, available on LBDtools.com.