Don’t even think about moving your parents in with you until you’ve listened to this week’s episode.

Plus… Can your current sleeping patterns actually determine your future dementia risks? 

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Having your parents come live with you may not be the best option…

In this episode of Parents are Hard To Raise, Diane takes a look at some innovative solutions to

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For Your Parents

I’ve heard them called “Granny Pods” and   they’re actually kinda cool.  Companies like Echo Cottages are offering cozy, some pretty creative solutions to some very common eldercare housing and relocation issues.     If your local zoning and building codes allow, companies like Echo can deliver a really inviting modular home that allow mom and dad  relax  in the comfort– knowing that you are right next door.  They’ll feel more secure knowing that you’re close by and you no longer have to worry about your parents safety.  But the big plus is both of you can still maintain your independence and privacy.    And from the looks of the photos, they’re really kinda nice and cozy–and complete with full size kitchens, major appliances and built in storage.

IMG_5831ECHO Cottage

For You

Researchers say doing crossword puzzles may actually help to maintain brain health in people ages 50 and older.

Here are some other tips to keep your brain sharp.

“The brain is actually like a muscle. You use it or you lose it.”

That’s the belief of Dr. Santosh Kesari, a neuro-oncologist, and chair of the Department of Translational Neuro-oncology and Neurotherapeutics at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in California.

In this episode, I spoke about a huge online study involving 17,000 people done by the University of Exeter and Kings College London. Its purpose was to measure essential brain functions in healthy people aged 50 or older.   The study results support Dr. Kesari’s, “use it or lose it” assertions. Here’s a link to that study.

Taking charge of your brain health

Experts at the National Institute on Aging say that some of the most important things you can do each day to promote brain health are to eat healthy foods, be physically active, exercise your mind, and stay socially connected. (We talk about the last one a lot on the show… finding ways to keep your aging parents socially active is essential to their cognitive and physical health.)

In addition, since all brains with Alzheimer’s contain amyloid plaques, experts say there are things we can do to slow or stop them from forming.

Reduce inflammation

Dr. Kesari suggests focusing on modifiable risk factors like: hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, and cardiovascular risk factors are probably one of the most important things for delaying aging in the brain.

Kesari also pointed to inflammation as a culprit: “Inflammation is one of the causes of many, all the diseases we deal with, including cancer, and that [controlling it somehow] whether its eating, lifestyle, etc., would probably delay onset of neurological disorders.”

So, does that mean we should all go on low inflammation diets? Can taking anti-inflammatories help in the long run?

Well… maybe.   The problem is that there is no real, long-term scientific proof.

But some preliminary research suggests, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet— rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA – are associated with lower levels of beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain. So, why not do what we can?

Healthy heart, healthy brain

Some research data also suggests that reducing cardiac risk factors in the middle adult years is just as, or even more important than, the types of genes you carry for risk of developing amyloid plaques later in life.

Many researchers believe that the presence of amyloid plaques in the brain is the most significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s.

So, if you’re in your 40s and 50s and you smoke and you don’t exercise and your diet isn’t the healthiest in the world, changing two of the three of those could be the most impactful thing we can do to reduce our risks of developing dementia in later life.

Get your ZZZZZ’s

Brain Researchers seem to agree: Make sure you get a good night’s sleep.

When we sleep our body’s cerebrospinal fluid moves through the brain, acting as a flushing mechanism to rid our brains of metabolic by-products and toxins, and that includes the amyloid protein that can accumulate and form those nasty amyloid plaques.

Establishing a bedtime routine and maintaining a regular sleep schedule can be helpful. Experts suggest that our grandmothers’ advice might have been right all along… They recommend seven to eight hours of sleep per night.

Caveat Emptor

Certainly, the subject of brain health—or for that matter health in general— is ripe for exploitation by hucksters and swindlers looking to empty your pockets for spurious “supplements” and bogus gadgets they claim to improve health and wellbeing.

Keep in mind that not all brain games are created equal and some manufacturers have been sued for making unsubstantiated claims.

Scientists themselves admit that more research is needed to determine the actual benefits and effectiveness of word-type puzzles on cognitive health. However, researchers have shown that there are certain activities that can help keep brains healthy as we age.

Bottom Line: No one can yet make a claim that if you do x, y, z you’re certain to not develop cognitive problems.

As for me, I solve the puzzles for the fun of it… and if it later proves to keep my brain healthy, more the better.

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