Healthy Brain - Challenge yourself

Challenge Yourself
Just as physical activity improves your body's ability to function, studies show that keeping your brain active may help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
Research is showing that by using your brain, you increase its networks of connections. A brain-healthy lifestyle also emphasizes the importance of overcoming routine and monotony in our daily lives. By approaching daily routines in new ways, you engage new or little used mental pathways.
Since the evidence suggests that mental stimulation enhances brain activity and may help maintain brain health throughout life, it is important to put your brain to work.
Challenging your brain doesn't have to be difficult. It can be as simple as dialing the phone with your less dominant hand or as complex as learning a new language. Remember, the goal is to give your brain a new experience and a workout each and every day.
Take Action to Challenge Your Brain
 Play games to challenge your mind – chess, word and number puzzles, jigsaws, crosswords and memory games.
 Pursue a new interest such as learning to play a musical instrument, taking a course or going to the theatre.
 Break your routine – take a different route to the store or change the order of your morning routine.
 Involve one or more of your senses in a novel way - write your name with your opposite hand or count out coin change by using your sense of touch.
 Read a book – discuss it with a friend.
 Pursue cultural activities like going to plays, museums, concerts, galleries.
 Keep up hobbies such as sewing, carpentry or take up a new hobby.
 Cross train your brain – try a variety of mental challenges.
 For some great ways to take action on brain health, visit our BrainBoosterTM pages.
Three Heads Up
Note: Your abilities, health situation and interests should be taken into consideration when choosing brain healthy activities. If you have questions about your own situation, speak to your doctor or health-care provider.
For a reference list of studies regarding Alzheimer's disease and brain health, click here.
[This information is also available in an information sheet you can download from this site.

Music Helps Ease Pain & Anxiety of Cancer Patients

The saying music soothes the soul has proven to be more than a catchy phrase.  Over the years, frequently listening to music has been linked to a number of health benefits which includes reducing stress.  A recent review of 30 studies published in the Cochrane Library found that music therapy helped cancer patients reduce anxiety and pain while improving overall quality of life. 
Joke Bradt, PhD., and associate professor of creative arts therapies at Drexel University and her colleagues reviewed studies that included 1,891 cancer patients who went through different forms of music therapy.  In all of the studies, participants commonly listened to music and in some cases also played instruments, sang, or created rhymes along with control groups the received standard treatment.  Improvements linked to the different music therapies included: reduced anxiety, improved pain and mood, lower blood pressure, heart rate, and overall improved quality of life. 
Bradt concludes that there is need of more research and tests in order to see which type of music therapy is most effective, but says that programs should be tailored to the individual’s tastes and skills.  “It’s not like when you go to a doctor with a headache, and he prescribes a specific type of medicine that will help me with my headache and also help you with your headache,” Bradt explains. 
More in depth studies are needed to know the true extent of the benefits that music may have, however the results are promising.  Robert Zatorre, Ph.D., a cognitive neuroscientist at McGill University sums it up saying, “the cost involved with music is very small compared to other kinds of interventions. How well it works – say, compared to drugs – is another question, but the side effects are very minimal as well.  The worst thing that can happen [when] someone doesn’t like music is that they can turn it off.”  So whether you suffer from a chronic illness or not, listen to some music to help brighten your day and improve your mood.    

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon), Hamilton and surrounding areas.

Aging: Too Old to Benefit From Exercise? Pish!

Researchers divided a group of 64 volunteers with an average age of 84 into three groups. The first group exercised by walking, the second did resistance training, and a control group did no exercise.
After 16 weeks of regular exercise twice a week, the exercise groups had lower systolic blood pressure, improved upper and lower body strength, improved hip and shoulder flexibility and improvements in tests of agility, balance and coordination when compared with members of the group that did not exercise.
All of the participants, who ranged in age from 66 to 96, were healthy enough to take care of daily tasks on their own, but some exercisers used canes or walkers during their sessions. Three-quarters of the participants were women, and only five participants were younger than 75. The study appears in the February issue of The Journal of Aging and Health.
Ross Andel, a co-author of the study, suggested that the exercise program would also be suitable for older people who had greater handicaps. "Based on our findings," he said, "it is reasonable to expect that a similar exercise program would be successful in older individuals who have difficulties in activities of daily living." Dr. Andel is an assistant professor of gerontology at the School of Aging Studies at the University of South Florida.
Both the resistance program and the walking program led to significant improvements, leading Dr. Andel to suggest that the exercise itself, and not the type of exercise, provides the benefit. "It is at least as important to exercise in advanced age as earlier in life," he said.

Published: February 28, 2006

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon), Hamilton and surrounding areas.

Positive aging

Aging can be difficult at times, we all go through it. It is important to remember that even though our physical appearance changes, our spirit does not. Some people in their 70s and 80s are much younger than some people in their 20s or 30s. It all comes down to one thing and that is our outlook on life. Everybody is looking for the fountain of youth, but what they often are unaware of is that the fountain of youth can be found by simply looking within oneself.
Always remember, we are never too old to realize a new goal or dream. Also we must realize, just because someone is older, it does not mean that they are incapable of accomplishing great things to contribute to society.

The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.
~Frank Lloyd Wright

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
~ Mark Twain

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon), Hamilton and surrounding areas.

Tell-Tall Signs Your Loved One Needs Help

For many of us, acknowledging that an aging parent or loved one needs help is a difficult process. As our parents age, they depend on us more and more and eventually will need additional help at home. Tell-tale signs that your parent or loved one could benefit from home care include the inability to comfortably perform routine tasks including bathing and dressing, neglect of housekeeping tasks, and the inability to run errands or drive.
In general, consider the following areas:
  • Mobility Issues – Difficulty walking, unsteady when standing, falling down, stumbling.
  • Disinterest in Personal Health – Changes in eating or cooking habits, spoiled or outdated food in the refrigerator, lack of nutritious food in the pantry or freezer.
  • Disinterest in Personal Hygiene – Wearing the same clothes, wearing soiled or unkempt clothing, lack of bathing or oral care, unkempt hair or nails.
  • Changes in Personal Habits – Loss of interest in hobbies, reluctance to socialize, unopened mail or unpaid bills, changes in housekeeping methods, lack of home or car maintenance.
  • Loss of Mental Acuity – Memory loss, confusion, difficulty in concentration, poor judgment, forgets medication or has become confused about dosage, unusual purchases of goods or services, mood or other personality changes, increase or decrease in sleep, fatigue.

If you feel your aging loved one falls into one of the categories above, there are many different senior care options your family can look into. You can contact a local geriatric care manager to help assess your family’s needs and determine the best option. Some options include:
  • Adult day care – A daily program, usually Mon-Fri from 9am-5pm, that offers participants the opportunity to socialize, enjoy peer support and receive health and social services in a safe, familiar environment.
  • Senior/Retirement communities – An independent living option featuring apartments or single family homes in a small community setting for seniors who need little if any help with their daily activities.
  • Assisted living facilities – A residential option for seniors who want or need help with some of the activities of daily living such as cooking meals, keeping the house clean and bathing.
  • Home care – Non-medical home care services include companionship, light housekeeping, cooking and many other household activities and chores provided in the comfort of a senior’s own home. Home Care Assistance provides highly trained caregivers for your loved one in their home on an hourly or live-in basis.
With this knowledge, think about your loved one’s health and wellness and discuss options early.

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon), Hamilton and surrounding areas.

Exercising Regularly

If ever there were a perfect excuse not to exercise, arthritis pain would seem to be it. In fact, research shows quite the opposite: A properly designed exercise program can not only decrease your pain, but also increase your flexibility and overall fitness - and it can do wonders for your spirits.
Exercise confers an even more direct benefit. Did you know you're 'feeding' your joints when you're active? Cartilage - the tough gristle that protects the ends of bones - depends on joint movement to absorb nutrients and remove waste. Activity actually helps keep joints healthy.
Here's another way to look at it: Exercise is one part of your treatment program over which you can assert control. It's a chance to confront arthritis directly and maybe reclaim some favourite activities the disease has stolen from you - and discover some new ones, too. The trick is getting started and sticking with your program.
Before you start pumping iron or running marathons, though, get a little expert coaching.  Check with your doctor or physiotherapist to make sure the activity you're planning to take up isn't out of your league.

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon), Hamilton and surrounding areas.

Oral Health for Seniors

Today, seniors can expect to keep most if not all their own teeth. This makes it especially important to maintain regular oral hygiene habits and visits to a dental professional. As one ages, you can expect to make a few small changes in the way you clean your teeth and mouth.

Toothbrush Modifications

If it becomes difficult to hold a toothbrush or to floss talk to your dental professional about finding an alternative that will work for you. There are modifications that can be done to make brushing easier for you.

Caring for Dentures (or false teeth)

Your false teeth need just as much care as natural teeth. To keep germs and infections away:
  • Take your dentures out every night - brush (without toothpaste) and rinse them;
  • Soak them overnight, in denture cleaner or warm water.
If there are any changes in the way your dentures fit your mouth you should see a dental professional.

Seniors and Cavities

If you have one or more of your natural teeth, then you still have a chance to develop a cavity. Seniors are more likely to have cavities develop around the root of the tooth. It is important to maintain a regular schedule of daily brushing and flossing throughout your lifetime.

Dry Mouth or Xerostomia

Dry mouth or xerostomia occurs when the glands that produce saliva stop working due to disease, medications or due to cancer treatment. This lower level of saliva or lack there of can increase the potential of developing cavities because your saliva is a natural cleanser in your mouth and helps to wash away bacteria from your teeth.

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon), Hamilton and surrounding areas.

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