Like many people, helping family members navigate the aging process is becoming more important, and more difficult. It adds another layer onto an already hectic schedule.
This weekend Mary and I went to Philadelphia to help my mother. Until recently she was extremely healthy- lucid, active and totally independent. Of course there were signs that she was slowing down mentally and physically but overall there was little concern. She needed to have some tests and the trauma (hospital stay and being put under) took a toll. She has been confused, unable to sleep, and has trouble with taking care of herself. Witnessing this dramatic change brought up the topic of “what can we do to keep ourselves healthy for as long as we can”?
While staying healthy requires an individual approach, and our understanding of how the human brain and body work is constantly evolving, I believe there are a few simple strategies that may prove to be effective;
- Exercise daily- movement is the key to brain and body health. It keeps us strong, and much of the nervous system is stimulated by moving us through space. Mix it up- try new activities- don’t let it get stale.
- Nutrition- Eat a whole food based diet high in veggies, good quality protein, and lots of good fat (coconut oil, avacados, nuts). The brain runs on fat- don’t deprive it.
- Drugs and vitamens- Try to take as few as possible. Research side effects, interactions, and self assess how YOU react to them. There is more and more evidence that long term use of many common drugs may be linked to dementia.
- Stimulate your being by learning new things, spending time with other people, and practicing some form of mindfulness. Reduce your time in front of a screen and interact with the real world!
While this list is by no means complete it may be a good place to start. Don’t blindly follow someone elses advice! Think for yourself! If you are not happy with the direction your health is headed change something!
Start today with one step! Dr Matt
- Posted in: TGIM