Alzheimer’s Study: Sleep Apnea During REM Stage Linked to Memory Decline

Sleep Apnea During REM Stage

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, discovered that sleep apnea severity during the REM stage of sleep negatively impacts verbal memory. According to the researchers, the adverse effect is particularly severe among older persons at risk for Alzheimer’s.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder in which an individual has breathing pauses or interruptions during sleep. Researchers estimate that approximately 936 million people worldwide suffer from this condition [1].

Previous research has connected OSA to an increased risk for various neurological disorders, including cognitive decline, dementia [2], Parkinson’s disease [3], and Alzheimer’s disease [4].

Researchers at the University of California have now discovered that verbal memory is adversely affected by the severity of sleep apnea during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, particularly in older persons who are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The journal Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy recently published this research [5].

What is Verbal Memory?

Verbal memory was the primary focus of this study. According to Bryce A. Mander, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the University of California and co-corresponding author of this study, verbal memory refers to the capability to remember words in the appropriate context.

Examples of verbal memory include remembering someone’s name, the names of streets at an intersection connected to a memory, and how words are paired together.

He further stated that verbal memory is very vulnerable to Alzheimer’s and is one of the initial types of memory to be affected by the condition’s biomarkers. Its susceptibility to deterioration with age and Alzheimer’s led researchers to study this type of memory.

Effect of sleep apnea during REM sleep on verbal memory

The recent study included 81 individuals with an average age of roughly 62, and 70% of them had a parental history of Alzheimer’s. The group had 62% female participants. Every study participant underwent verbal memory tests and polysomnography, a diagnostic procedure for sleep disorders.

At the end of the study, researchers discovered that REM sleep apnea episodes have a detrimental effect on a person’s verbal memory, particularly in those participants who have a family history of Alzheimer’s or a genetic susceptibility to the condition.

The researchers initially hypothesized that events in non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep would be more predictive since some specific brain waves occur only during NREM sleep support memory.

However, they believe these REM findings make sense because REM sleep may aid memory and has a higher metabolic requirement than NREM sleep, and in some memory-related brain areas, even higher than when awake.

Mander noted that if you deprive your brain of oxygen during high metabolic demand, you may be more prone to sustaining brain damage. The team is looking into this possibility for their upcoming studies.

Possibility of sleep apnea-related Alzheimer’s treatment

These findings highlight the potential impact of sleep apnea occurrences during REM sleep. They are frequently rejected clinically in favor of global sleep apnea metrics, which have historically been poor at predicting cognitive and health effects.

These findings support the notion that studying the brain state in which sleep apnea occurs will provide a better understanding of the cognitive implications of sleep apnea.

Additionally, the researchers believe that this may emphasize how crucial it is to concentrate on how sleep apnea severity is measured when examining the health and neurodegenerative impacts of Alzheimer’s, as well as how sleep apnea treatment may be tailored to reduce the cognitive effects of the disease.

Mander further stated that although OSA is a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s, it is unclear which features of the condition are significant for the cognitive impairment linked to the illness’s risk. Finding these particular connections is essential to comprehend the reasons why sleep apnea is associated with a higher risk of dementia and to develop treatment plans that specifically address the processes underlying this correlation.

Mander said that their research demonstrated the complex connection between memory loss, sleep apnea, and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Identifying and responding to REM-specific events is critical for establishing proactive, tailored approaches to assessment and therapy based on individual sleep patterns.

References

  1. Sleep Apnea Statistics and Facts You Should Know. National Council on Aging. https://www.ncoa.org/adviser/sleep/sleep-apnea-statistics/. Published Online: 8th May, 2024. Accessed: 1st July, 2024.
  2. Guay‐Gagnon, M., Vat, S., Forget, M.F., Tremblay‐Gravel, M., Ducharme, S., Nguyen, Q.D. and Desmarais, P., 2022. Sleep apnea and the risk of dementia: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Journal of sleep research, 31(5), p.e13589.
  3. Yu, Q., Hu, X., Zheng, T., Liu, L., Kuang, G., Liu, H., Wang, X., Li, J., Huang, J., Wang, T. and Lin, Z., 2023. Obstructive sleep apnea in Parkinson’s disease: A prevalent, clinically relevant and treatable feature. Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, p.105790.
  4. Tsai, M.S., Li, H.Y., Huang, C.G., Wang, R.Y., Chuang, L.P., Chen, N.H., Liu, C.H., Yang, Y.H., Liu, C.Y., Hsu, C.M. and Cheng, W.N., 2020. Risk of Alzheimer’s disease in obstructive sleep apnea patients with or without treatment: real‐world evidence. The Laryngoscope, 130(9), pp.2292-2298.
  5. Lui, K.K., Dave, A., Sprecher, K.E., Chappel-Farley, M.G., Riedner, B.A., Heston, M.B., Taylor, C.E., Carlsson, C.M., Okonkwo, O.C., Asthana, S. and Johnson, S.C., 2024. Older adults at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease show stronger associations between sleep apnea severity in REM sleep and verbal memory. Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy, 16(1), p.102.
  6. Obstructive sleep apnea during REM stage linked to memory decline. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/sleep-apnea-severity-rem-sleep-memory-decline. Published Online: 21st May, 2024. Accessed: 1st July, 2024.
  7. Study links sleep apnea severity during REM stage to verbal memory decline. ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/05/240514183457.htm. Published Online: 14th May, 2024. Accessed: 1st July, 2024.

Foods for Healthy Brain and Enhanced Memory

Foods for Healthy Brain and Enhanced Memory

Essential nutrients in oily fish, berries, almonds, and other brain-boosting foods may enhance both short- and long-term brain function.

The brain requires a lot of healthy nourishment to sustain focus throughout the day because it is an energy-intensive organ that uses about 20% of the body’s calories [1]. Eating a diet rich in brain foods is one of the best strategies to keep your mind functioning normally and avoid dementia and cognitive decline.

The brain needs specific nutrients to remain healthy. For instance, antioxidants lower cellular stress and inflammation, which are connected to brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, while omega-3 fatty acids aid in brain cell synthesis and repair [2].

Besides the calories expended in executing the myriad of brain processes, certain nutrients can enhance our cognitive performance. Based on the scientific evidence, this article explores what you should know about “brain foods.”

Recent Research on Food and Brain Health

A recent research published in Nature Aging has pointed out that particular foods can help slow brain aging [3]. The 100 individuals, ranging from 65 to 75, answered questionnaires, had MRI scans, underwent a battery of physical and mental examinations, and had blood plasma extracted following a fast.

Researchers observed that one group consumed a specific food profile and showed indications of delayed aging. Those with slower aging had higher blood levels of the following nutrients:

  • Fatty acids – found in seafood and some healthy cooking oils
  • Antioxidants – found in berries, garlic, tomatoes, nuts, and other fruits and vegetables
  • Carotenoids – found in spinach, kale, broccoli, and some fruits
  • Vitamin E – found in fruits, vegetables, seafood, seeds, nuts, and more
  • Choline – found in egg yolks, dairy, and some vegetables

The researchers highlighted that many of the foods in the Mediterranean diet are high in these nutrients. While most other studies on diets and brain health have focused on dietary questionnaires, this study is among the first to employ brain scans, blood biomarkers, and cognitive testing.

Foods for Improved Brain Health and Function

1. Fatty Fish

When it comes to brain foods, fatty fish is generally at the top of the list due to its high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish include salmon, trout, tuna, herring, sardines, and mackerel.

Approximately 60% of your brain comprises fat, with omega-3 fatty acids accounting for slightly more than half of that fat [4]. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for learning and memory because your brain needs them to form brain and nerve cells. So, meals high in these fats may promote brain health.

According to studies, omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent Alzheimer’s and slow down age-related mental deterioration [5]. Conversely, inadequate consumption of omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with depression and cognitive decline [6].

One study suggests that having one seafood dinner per week lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia [7]. Some studies also show that people who consume fish regularly have more gray matter in their brains [8]. Gray matter comprises nerve cells that regulate emotion, memory, and decision-making.

Soybeans, almonds, flaxseed, and other seeds are also good sources of omega-3s.

2. Coffee

Caffeine and antioxidants, two of coffee’s primary components, can promote brain health. Coffee caffeine has several beneficial impacts on the brain, including increased alertness, improved mood, and enhanced focus [9].

In addition to increasing alertness, a 2018 study found that caffeine may improve the brain’s ability to process information [10]. The researchers discovered that caffeine increases brain entropy, which refers to intricate and variable brain activity. A high level of entropy allows the brain to process more information.

Long-term coffee use has also been associated with a lower risk of neurological conditions, including stroke, cognitive decline, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Adults who consumed 3-4 cups daily showed the highest risk reduction [11]. It may be due to coffee’s high concentration of antioxidants [12].

However, consuming caffeine close to bedtime or in excess might have a detrimental effect on your sleep. It can adversely affect your brain and memory.

3. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate comprises 70% or greater cocoa and is high in brain-boosting substances such as flavonoids, caffeine, and antioxidants. Since oxidative stress, linked to age-related cognitive decline and brain illnesses, can severely harm the brain, flavonoids, a form of antioxidant, are particularly crucial for maintaining brain health.

Flavonoids from cacao appear to be beneficial to the brain. A study suggests they might promote blood vessel and neuron growth in brain regions related to memory and learning. They might also increase the brain’s blood flow [13].

Another study also validates dark chocolate’s brain-boosting effects. The researchers employed imaging tools to examine brain activity after subjects consumed chocolate containing at least 70% cacao [14]. The researchers found that eating this type of dark chocolate may boost brain plasticity, which is essential for learning and may provide other cognitive benefits.

4. Berries

Similar to dark chocolate, many berries contain flavonoid antioxidants. Research suggests that these properties may make the berries beneficial to the brain since antioxidants lessen oxidative stress and inflammation. Berries are rich in antioxidants like quercetin, catechin, anthocyanin, and caffeic acid.

According to a review, berries’ antioxidant components have a variety of advantageous effects on the brain, such as [15]:

  • Enhancing communication between neurons
  • Reducing inflammation all over the body
  • Increasing plasticity, which helps brain cells make new connections, enhancing learning and memory
  • Preventing or delaying age-related neurodegenerative illnesses and cognitive decline

Berries high in antioxidants that promote brain health include strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, and mulberries.

5. Nuts and Seeds

Since nuts and seeds are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, eating more of them may benefit the brain. Research has shown that consuming nuts can enhance heart health markers, and having a healthy heart is associated with having a healthy brain and a lower chance of neurological problems [16].

According to one study, older persons who regularly eat nuts may be at a lower risk of experiencing cognitive decline [17].

Vitamin E, an antioxidant that shields cells from free radical-induced oxidative stress, is abundant in nuts and seeds. Vitamin E helps delay the onset of mental decline by protecting cells from the damaging effects of free radicals [18].

While all nuts benefit the brain, walnuts may have more advantages since they also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties [19].

6. Broccoli

Broccoli is a low-calorie, high-fiber food that may also benefit the brain. It contains a high concentration of glucosinolates. When the body degrades them, it produces isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates may lessen the risk of neurodegenerative illnesses and oxidative stress [20].

It is also high in vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin required for sphingolipids formation, a type of fat found densely packed in brain cells [21].

Some studies in older persons suggest that a higher vitamin K intake correlates with improved memory and cognitive status [22].

Additionally, broccoli includes substances like sulforaphane, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may help shield the brain from damage. Broccoli sprouts have a high concentration of sulforaphane [23].

7. Eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of nutrients linked to brain function, such as choline, folate, and vitamins B6 and B12.

Choline is a vital nutrient your body needs to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and memory. You must obtain choline from food to meet your needs since the liver can only create a limited quantity. Higher intakes may be associated with improved memory and mental function [24].

Eggs contain B vitamins, which are also good for the brain. They may assist in slowing the progression of cognitive decline by reducing levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that may be connected to dementia and Alzheimer’s [25].

Folate deficiency is widespread in dementia patients, and research indicates that folic acid supplementation can help reduce age-related cognitive loss [26]. In addition, vitamin B12 has a role in controlling blood sugar levels and synthesizing brain chemicals.

There is limited direct evidence on the relationship between eating eggs and brain health. However, studies confirm the brain-boosting properties of particular nutrients found in eggs.

8. Green Tea

Caffeine in green tea may enhance mental health by promoting focus, memory, performance, and alertness. Green tea also has additional components that boost brain function.

An amino acid called L-theanine has the ability to pass across the blood-brain barrier and raise GABA neurotransmitter activity, which relieves anxiety and induces relaxation [27].

According to a review, green tea’s L-theanine counteracts the stimulating effects of caffeine, promoting relaxation [28].

Antioxidants and polyphenols found in high concentrations in green tea may shield the brain against mental deterioration and lower the risk of neurodegenerative illnesses. Additionally, green tea might aid with memory improvement [29].

The Bottom Line

Certain foods, like fruits and vegetables, tea, and coffee, include minerals and antioxidants that help safeguard your brain from damage, enhance memory, elevate mood, and promote brain development. You may promote brain health by strategically incorporating these nutrients into your diet.

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. It aims to increase public awareness and motivate individuals to donate money or their time to support and research. Besides raising awareness about Alzheimer’s, it aims to provide opportunities to raise funds for research and support services for Alzheimer’s patients and their families. Donate to the Alzheimer’s Research Foundation to help us support the Alzheimer’s family caregivers and provide them with resources.

Donate now: https://www.alzra.org/donate-now/

References

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  2. 12 foods to boost brain function. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324044. Published Online: 13th March, 2023. Accessed: 31st May, 2024.
  3. Zwilling, C.E., Wu, J. and Barbey, A.K., 2024. Investigating nutrient biomarkers of healthy brain aging: a multimodal brain imaging study. npj Aging, 10(1), p.27.
  4. Dighriri, I.M., Alsubaie, A.M., Hakami, F.M., Hamithi, D.M., Alshekh, M.M., Khobrani, F.A., Dalak, F.E., Hakami, A.A., Alsueaadi, E.H., Alsaawi, L.S. and Alshammari, S.F., 2022. Effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on brain functions: a systematic review. Cureus, 14(10).
  5. Bakre, A.T., Chen, R., Khutan, R., Wei, L., Smith, T., Qin, G., Danat, I.M., Zhou, W., Schofield, P., Clifford, A. and Wang, J., 2018. Association between fish consumption and risk of dementia: a new study from China and a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. Public health nutrition, 21(10), pp.1921-1932.
  6. Liao, Y., Xie, B., Zhang, H., He, Q., Guo, L., Subramanieapillai, M., Fan, B., Lu, C. and McIntyre, R.S., 2019. Efficacy of omega-3 PUFAs in depression: a meta-analysis. Translational psychiatry, 9(1), p.190.
  7. Zhang, Y., Chen, J., Qiu, J., Li, Y., Wang, J. and Jiao, J., 2016. Intakes of fish and polyunsaturated fatty acids and mild-to-severe cognitive impairment risks: a dose-response meta-analysis of 21 cohort studies. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 103(2), pp.330-340.
  8. Kokubun, K., Nemoto, K. and Yamakawa, Y., 2020. Fish intake may affect brain structure and improve cognitive ability in healthy people. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 12, p.76.
  9. Ikram, M., Park, T.J., Ali, T. and Kim, M.O., 2020. Antioxidant and neuroprotective effects of caffeine against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease: Insight into the role of Nrf-2 and A2AR signaling. Antioxidants, 9(9), p.902.
  10. Chang, D., Song, D., Zhang, J., Shang, Y., Ge, Q. and Wang, Z., 2018. Caffeine caused a widespread increase of resting brain entropy. Scientific reports, 8(1), p.2700.
  11. Nehlig, A., 2016. Effects of coffee/caffeine on brain health and disease: What should I tell my patients?. Practical neurology, 16(2), pp.89-95.
  12. Poole, R., Kennedy, O.J., Roderick, P., Fallowfield, J.A., Hayes, P.C. and Parkes, J., 2017. Coffee consumption and health: umbrella review of meta-analyses of multiple health outcomes. bmj, 359.
  13. Nehlig, A., 2013. The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 75(3), pp.716-727
  14. Berk, L., Miller, J., Bruhjell, K., Dhuri, S.A.Y.A.L.I., Patel, K., Lohman, E., Bains, G. and Berk, R., 2018. Dark chocolate (70% organic cacao) increases acute and chronic EEG power spectral density (μV2) response of gamma frequency (25–40 Hz) for brain health: enhancement of neuroplasticity, neural synchrony, cognitive processing, learning, memory, recall, and mindfulness meditation. The FASEB Journal, 32, pp.878-10..
  15. Subash, S., Essa, M.M., Al-Adawi, S., Memon, M.A., Manivasagam, T. and Akbar, M., 2014. Neuroprotective effects of berry fruits on neurodegenerative diseases. Neural regeneration research, 9(16), pp.1557-1566.
  16. Nishi, S.K., Sala-Vila, A., Julvez, J., Sabaté, J. and Ros, E., 2023. Impact of nut consumption on cognition across the lifespan. Nutrients, 15(4), p.1000.
  17. Li, F., Jiang, W., Wang, J., Zhang, T., Gu, X., Zhai, Y., Wu, M., Xu, L. and Lin, J., 2022. Beneficial effects of nut consumption on cognitive function among elderly: findings from a 6-year cohort study. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 14, p.816443.
  18. Zhao, R., Han, X., Zhang, H., Liu, J., Zhang, M., Zhao, W., Jiang, S., Li, R., Cai, H. and You, H., 2022. Association of vitamin E intake in diet and supplements with risk of dementia: A meta-analysis. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 14, p.955878.
  19. Chauhan, A. and Chauhan, V., 2020. Beneficial effects of walnuts on cognition and brain health. Nutrients, 12(2), p.550.
  20. Giacoppo, S., Galuppo, M., Montaut, S., Iori, R., Rollin, P., Bramanti, P. and Mazzon, E., 2015. An overview on neuroprotective effects of isothiocyanates for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Fitoterapia, 106, pp.12-21.
  21. Alisi, L., Cao, R., De Angelis, C., Cafolla, A., Caramia, F., Cartocci, G., Librando, A. and Fiorelli, M., 2019. The relationships between vitamin K and cognition: a review of current evidence. Frontiers in neurology, 10, p.416803.
  22. Alisi, L., Cafolla, C., Gentili, A., Tartaglione, S., Curini, R. and Cafolla, A., 2020. Vitamin K concentration and cognitive status in elderly patients on anticoagulant therapy: a pilot study. Journal of Aging Research, 2020.
  23. Klomparens, E.A. and Ding, Y., 2019. The neuroprotective mechanisms and effects of sulforaphane. Brain Circulation, 5(2), pp.74-83.
  24. Choline. National Institute of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/. Accessed: 4th June, 2024.
  25. Ford, A.H. and Almeida, O.P., 2019. Effect of vitamin B supplementation on cognitive function in the elderly: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Drugs & aging, 36, pp.419-434.
  26. Puga, A.M., Ruperto, M., Samaniego-Vaesken, M.D.L., Montero-Bravo, A., Partearroyo, T. and Varela-Moreiras, G., 2021. Effects of supplementation with folic acid and its combinations with other nutrients on cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease: a narrative review. Nutrients, 13(9), p.2966.
  27. Williams, J.L., Everett, J.M., D’Cunha, N.M., Sergi, D., Georgousopoulou, E.N., Keegan, R.J., McKune, A.J., Mellor, D.D., Anstice, N. and Naumovski, N., 2020. The effects of green tea amino acid L-theanine consumption on the ability to manage stress and anxiety levels: a systematic review. Plant foods for human nutrition, 75(1), pp.12-23.
  28. Dietz, C. and Dekker, M., 2017. Effect of green tea phytochemicals on mood and cognition. Current pharmaceutical design, 23(19), pp.2876-2905.
  29. Baba, Y., Inagaki, S., Nakagawa, S., Kaneko, T., Kobayashi, M. and Takihara, T., 2020. Effect of daily intake of green tea catechins on cognitive function in middle-aged and older subjects: A randomized, placebo-controlled study. Molecules, 25(18), p.4265.
  30. Best Foods for A Healthy Brain and Improved Memory. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-brain-foods. Published Online: 13th March, 2024. Accessed: 3rd June, 2024.
  31. 12 foods to boost brain function. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324044. Published Online: 13th March, 2023. Accessed: 3rd June, 2024.
  32. These 5 foods can slow aging in your brain, new study finds. Today. https://www.today.com/health/diet-fitness/brain-foods-rcna152259. Published Online: 28th May, 2024. Accessed: 3rd June, 2024.

Healthy Lifestyle May Help Offset Cognitive Decline Even in Dementia Patients

According to a recent study, eating healthily, exercising, and abstaining from alcohol and tobacco can all help prevent or slow mental decline. The study revealed that by adopting these healthy practices, even individuals with dementia experienced less decline.

A healthy lifestyle is known to have a tremendous positive impact on our mental and physical well-being, and a recent study suggests that it may also maintain our cognitive abilities as we age.

The study, published in JAMA Neurology, discovered that living a healthy lifestyle — being physically active, eating healthily, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol intake — can decrease cognitive loss, even in persons with neuropathologies like dementia [1].

Although more research is required to fully understand the role of lifestyle factors, scientists believe that healthy activities improve vascular function, reduce inflammation in the brain, and support brain cell growth and plasticity.

People With Healthier Lifestyle Exhibited Better Brain Function

The researchers examined the health records of 586 people who participated in the Rush Memory and Aging Project, a longitudinal study from 1997 to 2022 [2].

The subjects were dead and autopsied. The study contained information regarding the person’s cognition, lifestyle characteristics, and neuropathologic evaluation results.

Every person was given a lifestyle score, which went from 0 to 5, based on factors such as their diet, level of regular physical activity, use of alcohol or tobacco, and participation in cognitive activities.

The researchers discovered that a healthier lifestyle was associated with improved cognitive function, irrespective of whether the patients had brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. Reduced levels of beta-amyloid plaque, a protein that builds up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, were also linked to higher lifestyle scores.

It implies that lifestyle factors may maintain brain function in older adults, even in those who are actively undergoing cognitive decline.

How to Protect Your Cognitive Function

Research continuously demonstrates that leading a healthy lifestyle has several positive effects on cognition and may even lower the risk of dementia in individuals who are genetically susceptible to the illness [3].

According to a recent study, modifying 12 risk factors, many of which are associated with a healthy lifestyle, could delay or avert up to 40% of dementia diagnoses [4].

Although further investigation is required, scientists have a few theories about how and why lifestyle factors affect cognition.

According to some experts, adopting healthy lifestyle practices that support brain health, like physical activity and cognitive stimulation, can assist in improving heart health, boosting brain activity, and increasing brain volumes, besides increasing blood flow to the brain [5].

For instance, research has shown that a healthy lifestyle improves vascular function in the body, lowering the incidence of diabetes, hypertension, and, eventually, dementia [6].

Furthermore, lifestyle variables may support neuroplasticity—the brain’s capacity to create new connections between brain cells—and neurogenesis, or the growth of brain cells. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle may also shield the brain against oxidative stress and neuroinflammation [7].

Investing in Your Health Today Can Pay Off in the Future

According to research, engaging in 150 minutes of physical activity each week, eating a well-rounded diet, spending time with friends and family, and engaging in cognitively demanding activities are all recommended.

The effects of lifestyle on cognitive performance are most prominent in older persons without dementia.

According to research, engaging in 150 minutes of physical activity each week [8], eating a well-rounded diet, spending time with friends and family, and engaging in cognitively demanding activities are all recommended.

The effects of lifestyle on cognitive performance are most prominent in older persons without dementia. However, engaging in social, mental, and physical activities may be beneficial even for people who already have brain disorders.

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. It aims to increase public awareness and motivate individuals to donate money or their time to support and research. Besides raising awareness about Alzheimer’s, it aims to provide opportunities to raise funds for research and support services for Alzheimer’s patients and their families. Donate to the Alzheimer’s Research Foundation to help us support the Alzheimer’s family caregivers and provide them with resources.

Donate now: https://www.alzra.org/donate-now/

References

  1. Dhana, K., Agarwal, P., James, B.D., Leurgans, S.E., Rajan, K.B., Aggarwal, N.T., Barnes, L.L., Bennett, D.A. and Schneider, J.A., 2024. Healthy Lifestyle and Cognition in Older Adults With Common Neuropathologies of Dementia. JAMA neurology.
  2. Memory and Aging Project. Rush University. https://www.rushu.rush.edu/research/departmental-research/rush-alzheimers-disease-center/rush-alzheimers-disease-center-research/epidemologic-research/memory-and-aging-project. Accessed: 30th May, 2024.
  3. Lourida, I., Hannon, E., Littlejohns, T.J., Langa, K.M., Hyppönen, E., Kuźma, E. and Llewellyn, D.J., 2019. Association of lifestyle and genetic risk with incidence of dementia. Jama, 322(5), pp.430-437.
  4. Livingston, G., Huntley, J., Sommerlad, A., Ames, D., Ballard, C., Banerjee, S., Brayne, C., Burns, A., Cohen-Mansfield, J., Cooper, C. and Costafreda, S.G., 2020. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. The Lancet, 396(10248), pp.413-446.
  5. Healthy Lifestyle May Offset Cognitive Decline Even in People With Dementia. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/healthy-lifestyle-may-offset-cognitive-decline-even-in-people-with-dementia. Published Online: 6th February, 2024. Accessed: 30th May, 2024.
  6. Elwood, P., Galante, J., Pickering, J., Palmer, S., Bayer, A., Ben-Shlomo, Y., Longley, M. and Gallacher, J., 2013. Healthy lifestyles reduce the incidence of chronic diseases and dementia: evidence from the Caerphilly cohort study. PloS one, 8(12), p.e81877.
  7. Kip, E. and Parr-Brownlie, L.C., 2023. Healthy lifestyles and wellbeing reduce neuroinflammation and prevent neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 17, p.1092537.
  8. Wang, S., Liu, H.Y., Cheng, Y.C. and Su, C.H., 2021. Exercise dosage in reducing the risk of dementia development: Mode, duration, and intensity—A narrative review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(24), p.13331.

Tips to Help You Live Alone With Early-Stage Dementia

Early-Stage Dementia

An individual in the early stages of dementia may be able to live alone and entirely autonomously for some time, particularly with the help of family and friends. Many individuals with dementia in the early stages can continue carrying out their daily tasks.

However, they may find it more difficult to manage independently as their symptoms worsen. Therefore, it is critical to plan for a future when completing everyday activities will become more challenging.

While worries about their capacity to manage are understandable, individuals might be able to live independently for an extended period with the appropriate assistance and adaptations. Also, adopting new coping mechanisms earlier will give you more time to get used to the changes.

If you or a loved one has recently received a diagnosis of dementia and are concerned about living alone, here are some tips to help you with it. The tips in this article will assist you in managing memory and cognitive changes, planning ahead, and maintaining an active and involved lifestyle.

1. Make Everyday Tasks Easier

  • Organizing your day: Note down events, appointments, and to-do lists in a journal or calendar. Moreover, you can monitor your actions using smartphone or computer applications. You may want to employ a digital clock that shows the date and the day of the week besides the time.
  • Paying bills: You can effortlessly pay your bills on time and accurately without writing checks by setting up automated payments. Several companies and banks provide this service without charging extra. Do not forget to consult a reliable person for assistance with bill payment. After looking over your financial documents, they might ask you about anything unusual.
  • Taking medications: Many products are available to assist with drug management. Try a weekly pillbox, one that vibrates or sounds an alarm to remind you when to take your prescription, or one that has an automated drug dispenser. These products are available online or at pharmacies, but setting them up can require assistance. You might also try using an electronic reminder system, like an alarm that you set on your computer or phone or an app for smartphones.
  • Shopping for meals: Generally, various stores offer grocery delivery services for a nominal cost. You can also order fresh or frozen meals online or over the phone. Meals on Wheels America provides low-cost or free food delivery services to your home, along with the option for a brief safety inspection and visit. Senior facilities and religious communities are additional potential meal suppliers. If you cook for yourself, think about choosing easy-to-prepare foods, like those you can reheat in the microwave.
  • Utilizing transportation: If you drive, you could notice that you’re more likely to get lost, become confused, or need directions more frequently than before. Consult your physician about these changes. Take the concerns of your family and friends about your driving seriously. Some give up driving and become adept at using the bus or carpooling. Volunteers, senior ride services, and neighbors can also assist with transportation.

2. Implement Home Safety Modifications

  • Eliminate unused objects and extra furniture: Now is the moment to get rid of anything you no longer need, including furniture, appliances, clothes, and decorations. Think about distributing goods to loved ones or donating in-good condition goods to a charitable organization. Some organizations will collect goods from your home.
  • Remove anything that may cause you to trip: Look for other items you might trip over, move electrical cords, and tidy up throw rugs. Living alone may become challenging due to injuries and disabilities resulting from falls.
  • Install an automatic shut-off switch on the stove: This switch can help prevent a fire if the stove is mistakenly left on. Have your stove disabled if necessary. Consider heating meals in a microwave or cooking equipment with an automatic shut-off, such as a slow cooker or rice cooker.
  • Enhance bathroom safety: Put non-skid mats in the bathtubs and showers. Don’t forget to add grab bars to the shower or bathtub. Keep a flashlight next to your bed in case you need to use the restroom at night. Install a nightlight in the bathroom or corridor. Set the water heater to 120 °F. In addition to protecting you from burns from boiling tap water, this setting could also help save money!
  • Invest in safety gadgets to notify others in an emergency: Consider personal safety devices such as GPS tracking systems, emergency call buttons, and fall monitors. Consult your physician or social worker about setting up an alert system to inform loved ones if you fall, get sick, or lose your way.
  • Ensure that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed and operational: Install these detectors in or near the kitchen and all bedrooms. Set up reminders for testing the batteries every six months.
  • Seek assistance with organizing and maintaining your home. Ask a family member or hire an expert to assist you with tasks like clutter management and home repairs. Labeling cabinets and drawers will help quickly and easily locate fire extinguishers, flashlights, and other safety supplies.

3. Prepare for the Future

  • Get your legal and financial affairs in order as quickly as possible: Create or amend your durable powers of attorney for financial and health care and your will. Call your attorney if you need legal counsel. Tell someone you trust where you have put the documents or give them a copy.
  • Know the in-home care choices available to you: Friends and family might be able to assist with daily tasks. Consider hiring a personal care assistant or home health care aide if you require more assistance. See how much these services will cost and if your insurance will cover any of them. Check with your insurance providers to learn more about potential benefits.
  • Plan for care when you can no longer live independently: You will probably require more daily assistance and attention at some point. Could a caregiver or family member move in with you? Or perhaps you could live with them? Other possibilities include assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and professional home care.
  • Think about your possibilities if you work: Consider sharing your diagnosis with your employer and discuss your work adjustments. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers employing more than 15 workers should reasonably accommodate individuals with disabilities. It could entail dividing up big tasks, setting reminders, or adjusting your schedule.
  • Learn about possible disability benefits if you can no longer work: Individuals with dementia could be qualified for disability compensation via Social Security, veterans’ benefits, or private disability insurance (if you have previously acquired this). People with diseases such as early-onset Alzheimer’s and various other types of dementia can receive disability benefits claims reviewed quickly thanks to a Social Security program called Compassionate Allowances.

4. Strengthen Your Support System

  • Identify family and friends who can assist: Discuss your diagnosis with them and find out if they can come to see you frequently or serve as a contact in case of emergency. Jot down and store their phone numbers and other contact details somewhere visible, like your wallet, cell phone, or refrigerator door.
  • Consider telling a trusted neighbor about your diagnosis: If someone appears lost or is wandering, neighbors are frequently the first to notice and may be able to assist them.
  • Consult a healthcare provider: Your primary care physician, neurologist, or other specialist can monitor changes in your memory, thinking, and capacity to carry out daily duties. Request a care plan from the doctor and jot down any instructions. Inquire with your doctor about house visits or telemedicine appointments if traveling to the doctor’s office presents challenges. Additionally, the office might be able to suggest geriatric care managers, who assist senior citizens in finding the resources they require, or home health care providers.
  • Discover the resources and assistance available at home and in the community: Social service organizations, neighborhood charities, and Area Agencies on Aging can offer or recommend in-home assistance, transportation, and meals to support you in staying home. Call Eldercare Locator to find out about services available in your region.
  • Stay linked to technology: You can communicate with family and friends via social media, email, and video calls via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Purchasing things that are simple to operate, like a phone that has dialing pictures, might be a good idea. Start using the technology you want to use as soon as possible so you can become accustomed to it and create a routine.
  • Talk to people who share your situation: Inquire with a social worker or your doctor’s office about local support groups or those run by nonprofits. Numerous Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers, funded by the National Institute on Aging, provide events and programs for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias, as well as their carers. There might be a memory café in your neighborhood where individuals with dementia and those who care for them can interact and engage in activities.

5. Look After Your Physical and Mental Health

  • Exercise: Being physically active does not require you to spend a lot of money or join a gym. Walking around the neighborhood, gardening, and even moderate housework can be beneficial. Experts advise doing strength training exercises like lifting weights and cardio exercises like walking.
  • Eat healthily: Consuming nutritious food promotes good health for all individuals. However, it is especially critical for those with dementia.
  • Get quality sleep: Dementia frequently affects a person’s sleeping habits. However, you can do some things, including sticking to a regular sleep pattern, to get a decent night’s sleep.
  • Be mindful: The mindfulness technique, which entails focusing awareness on the present moment without judgment, is one strategy for managing stress and lowering anxiety.
  • Stay social: You can enhance your quality of life and learn to deal with challenges by making meaningful connections with other people. Organize a support group, have regular conversations with loved ones, or engage in hobbies with your spouse.

References

  1. Tips for Living Alone With Early-Stage Dementia. National Institute on Aging. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-and-dementia/tips-living-alone-early-stage-dementia. Accessed: 13th May, 2024.
  2. Living Alone With Dementia. Dementia UK. https://www.dementiauk.org/information-and-support/living-with-dementia/living-alone-with-dementia/. Published Online: March, 2024. Accessed: 13th May, 2024.