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Securing Power of Attorney For Elderly Parents

How To Get Power of Attorney For Elderly Parents

If a senior you love is living with Alzheimer’s disease or a similar form of dementia, you might find yourself without the legal authority to access the health and financial information necessary to assist them. In most cases, a power of attorney will be required.

The best approach to obtaining a power of attorney (POA) for a senior loved one is before you actually need it. It is when your elderly parent is still healthy and able to make their own decisions. They can hire an attorney to create this document that outlines their wishes for future care and financial decisions.

Unfortunately, many families delay having difficult conversations about elder care issues. And then a crisis occurs. Adult children are left without the legal authority to pay bills or make decisions on their loved one’s behalf. It can be even more complicated when the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s disease.

Two Types of POA

While laws vary by state, there are typically two types of Power of Attorney (POA):

  • Health Care POA: This document identifies the person who is to make health care decisions on behalf of the principal.
  • Financial POA: The person designated as the financial POA will be authorized to make legal and financial decisions for the principal.

How do you obtain a power of attorney? Especially if a loved one is diagnosed with dementia?

Here’s what the experts have to say.

How to Get a Power of Attorney for Elderly Parents

Whether you can obtain a power of attorney for a senior loved one depends on their mental status. Legally, they must be “of sound mind” to grant a power of attorney. While this isn’t a difficult standard for a healthy adult to meet, it can be tough for someone with dementia.

If your aging family member is considered mentally competent, a qualified attorney can work with your family to create these documents in very little time.

If your senior loved one’s cognitive losses prevent them from meeting this standard, however, the alternative is usually to petition your local probate court to become their legal guardian or have a conservatorship granted. Unless it is a life-threatening situation, this process will take extra time.

Online Legal Resources

If you don’t have easy access to a local attorney, there are online resources you may find helpful. Here are a few to explore:

  • NOLO – This do-it-yourself site walks you through the process of creating legal documents ranging from a POA to a personal will.
  • Rocket Lawyer: Another DIY legal site, you can use their resources to create a POA for yourself or help a senior loved one assemble theirs.
  • Legal Zoom: You can also use this content rich site to create the legal documents you need to help make your role of family caregiver easier. That includes completing a power of attorney for finances and/or health care.

Elmcroft Senior Living Resource Center

If you are a family caregiver for a senior loved one, you might find the articles and tools in our Senior Living Resource Center to be helpful. We encourage you to spend time reviewing them and to call your local Elmcroft Senior Living community if you have any questions. We’ll be happy to help answer them!

Sunscreen 101 for Older Adults

As we age, our skin becomes dryer and more fragile. It can be caused by a variety of factors ranging from loss of collagen product to side effects of medication. The result is older adult’s skin becomes more sensitive to the sun.

As we head in to summer, we thought it would be a good time to share answers to some of the most common questions people have about sun protection and sunscreen.

Q: What type of sunscreen is better a stick, spray or cream?

A: Consumer Reports asked that very question in research they did. They found that no one type of sunscreen could be considered better than another. So think about what area of the body you are trying to protect and which type of sunscreen is easiest to apply there.  You might find a stick is the best choice to use on your ears and the back of your knees and a spray or cream is best for larger areas of the body. Just remember to check the SPF on each product to make certain you are getting equal protection.

Q: What is SPF?

A: Sun protection factor, known as SPF is a rating system used to evaluate how effective the product is at preventing sunburn. So if your senior loved one can typically be in the sun for about 5 minutes before they begin to experience sunburn, an SPF of 15 will allow them to be outdoors 15 times longer or 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes).

Q: How much sunscreen should sunscreen should I apply and how often?

A: This is an area that people don’t often get right. The general rule is one ounce of sunscreen every 2 hours that you are outdoors.  If you are running or swimming or otherwise working up a sweat, you will need to re-apply it even more frequently. That likely means you will use an entire bottle of sunscreen for each full day you spend outside.

Q: What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays?

A: Both types of the sun’s rays can cause damage to your skin, but UVB rays are considered to be the most harmful. UVB rays are the ones that cause your skin to burn. UVA rays are the most common and penetrate the skin more deeply. Both UVA and UVB rays are usually strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Prevention Center has more resources and information on how to protect yourself from the sun’s damaging rays. Visit them to learn more.

Dementia Care: A Checklist for Visiting the Neurologist

By Elmcroft Senior Living

Caring for an older adult who has Alzheimer’s disease requires a team approach that includes doctors, social workers, care coordinators and other specialists.  It takes a dedicated care team to ensure the health and longevity of seniors with Alzheimer’s and to help relieve stress for caregivers.

If your senior loved one has recently been diagnosed with this disease, the first step is to decide on a course of treatment.  While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are steps you can take that may help to delay the progression of your family member’s disease.  During this time, you will likely work with a number of different medical professionals to coordinate your loved one’s care. It is important to understand the role and function of each of these different specialists.

Begin by developing a strong relationship with your senior’s primary care physician.  They will act as the care team’s “quarterback”, ultimately responsible for managing medications, therapies, and monitoring for any conflicting treatments.  While the primary doctor may head the care team, he or she will assemble other experts to help.

Another key member of your loved one’s Alzheimer’s care team will be the neurologist.  These specialists are trained in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain, nervous system, and spinal cord. Many neurologists also have additional training in one area of neurology such as stroke, epilepsy, or dementias.

Finding a Neurologist Specializing in Dementia

Your family doctor or primary care physician may be able to refer you to a high-quality dementia neurologist he or she has worked with in the past.  You can also locate a dementia specialist with the help of your local Alzheimer’s Association or through The American Academy of Neurology’s online database (AAN).  Before making an appointment, make sure the neurologist is covered by your loved one’s health insurance.

In addition to finding a physician who is considered to be an expert in dementia, it is also important that the physician you work with is someone you and your loved one feel comfortable around.  This means feeling respected by the doctor and feeling free to ask questions. You may want to consider interviewing the neurologist to see if he or she is a good fit for your family.  If the neurologist does not feel like the right “match”, keeping looking until you find one who does.

Preparing for a Neurologist Appointment

Your loved one will get the best care possible if you prepare for your appointment ahead of time.  The AAN recommends Alzheimer’s caregivers do the following before visiting a neurologist:

  • Write down the questions you would like to ask.  List the most important questions first.  It might be helpful to get a small notebook or download an app for your phone to house all of your loved one’s pertinent care information in one place.
  • Make a list of all medications — including prescription, over-the-counter, and supplements — that your loved one is taking. Jot down dosages.
  • Bring your loved one’s medical history and other medical paperwork including test results, lab work, x-rays, and MRIs.
  • Bring a list of the doctors you want your neurologist to update.
  • Ask the neurologist if there are any forms you can complete prior to the visit.

What to Expect When Visiting the Neurologist

It can take a week or several months to secure an appointment with an expert dementia neurologist.  When it comes time for your senior loved to visit the neurologist, what can you expect? Office visits average around 30 to 45 minutes.  Ensure your loved one has had plenty of rest prior to the appointment.

There are several different dementia evaluations the neurologist may conduct.  They often include:

  • Mental Status Exam which tests recall of current events and ability to perform routine activities
  • Cranial nerve evaluation which can include an eye test and evaluation of hearing and sense of smell
  • Motor system exam to measure muscle tone and strength
  • Sensory system exam that tests sensations such as temperature, pain, and pressure
  • Deep tendon exam which tests how active reflexes are and how tendons move
  • Gait and coordination evaluation which measure balance and how your loved one walks

The neurologist may order other diagnostic scans such as a CAT scan (computed axial tomography) or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) along with additional urine and blood tests.

After the Neurologist Visit

Review the information you receive from the neurologist’s office.  If you can’t remember or don’t understand something you were told, contact the neurologist to get a clear understanding of the information you need.

Finally, depending on the stage of the disease, you may need to begin to plan for the changes that are occurring with your older loved one.  Exploring local senior care options such as in-home care or Memory Care in an assisted living community may help you create a plan of care that will support their unique needs now and in to the future.

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Elmcroft of Arlington Resident Turns 105!

Arlington, TX – May 20, 2015 – – Elmcroft of Arlington resident Beatrice Byrum turns 105 on May 27. Bea was born on May 27, 1910 in Portales, New Mexico.  She and her family moved to Oklahoma when she was very young, travelling in a covered wagon. 

She attended University of Oklahoma at the age of 16.  Due to the depression, she had to return home before graduating. Bea started working at a very early age – working for her father.  But, deciding she wanted to be paid for her work, she went to work for Woolworths.  She was only 14 years old at the time, but told them she was 16!

She and her husband, T.P. Byrum were married on November 08, 1931.  He saw Bea walking down the street one day. T.P. went home and told his mother that he had seen a pretty red head girl and she was the one he would marry.  At that time, he did not even know her name and she was engaged to someone else!  T.P. & his cousin were in a car one day and saw Bea.  T.P.’s cousin knew her from college so they stopped and Bea & T.P were introduced. As the family says, “the rest is history!”

Bea is very, very family oriented. Bea and T.P. Byrum has 2 daughters, 4 grandchildren, 6 Great-grandchildren and 3.5 Great-Great-Grandchildren! With her husband of 48 years, she says she “lived a life of Love!”  Her favorite things in life are God, Family, Christmas, Summer-Time, Fox News, and don’t dare leave out Breakfast at McDonalds consisting of sausage biscuit!

About Elmcroft Senior Living:

Elmcroft of Arlington is an Elmcroft Senior Living community. Elmcroft operates 102 senior living facilities in 19 states across the United States. Elmcroft offers services from independent and assisted living to specialized Alzheimer’s care. Elmcroft also operates facilities specializing in skilled nursing and physical, occupational and speech therapies designed to return patients to their highest level of independence.

Elmcroft Senior Living provides quality senior residential care in a welcoming environment where residents can enjoy their friends, their families, and their independence, while receiving assistance with the activities of daily living. Elmcroft residents enjoy many services and amenities such as three fine dining meals each day, enriching activities to stimulate physical, emotional and spiritual needs and housekeeping services. Licensed associates are on hand to assist with medication and provide around-the-clock monitoring for all residents.

Normal Aging or Early Alzheimer’s?

As our parents age, we all notice slight differences in them. From forgetting simple things like someone’s name to developing new aches and pains in their joints, aging brings change. Sometimes it takes longer for an aging parent to get from point A to point B, both physically and mentally. In most cases, this is just a natural part of the aging process and age-related memory loss.

Sometimes the changes might appear to be a little more serious though.  At what point should you be concerned an older parent’s behavior might be caused by more than normal aging? The National Alzheimer’s Association has developed a list of ten warning signs between age-related memory loss and dementia that may warrant further investigation.

10 Signs a Parent’s Memory Loss is More Than Normal Aging:

1.  When memory loss interferes with daily living.  Forgetting dates or names and then remembering them later is fairly common as we age.  However, if a parent or other aging loved one does not recall this information at all or has resorted to using note cards or other prompts to guide them through the activities of daily living, it might be an early signal of Alzheimer’s.

2.  Problems with simple problem solving.  We all make an occasional error when balancing our checkbook.  But when an aging parent can no longer follow a favorite recipe or manage their monthly bills, it might indicate something more than aging is responsible.

3.  Trouble completing daily tasks.  Needing help to set a GPS or check email is not a huge concern.  However, people with Alzheimer’s often have trouble completing familiar and routine tasks such as working the dialing the telephone or finding their way to an often visited location.

4.  Unable to stay oriented to time and place.  Unless something is happening now, people with Alzheimer’s often have trouble keeping up.  They may be unable to remember what day it is, the year, and even their location.

5.  Developing visual difficulties.  People with Alzheimer’s sometimes develop problems with reading, determining color and even judging distance when driving.  These problems might just be related to the presence of cataracts.  But if their physician determines cataracts or another eye problem isn’t the cause, it might be the onset of Alzheimer’s.

6.  Issues with verbal communication.  While having a conversation, finding the right word can occasionally be a problem for anyone.  Alzheimer’s can leave people struggling to find the right word, consistently calling things by the wrong name, repeating themselves or even finding that they lack the ability to join in a discussion.

7.  Misplacing Items.  A few minutes spent looking for lost car keys or a grocery list is not a big concern.  But a person with Alzheimer’s will often put these and other items in unexpected places.  Unfortunately, they often lack the memory skills to retrace their steps to find the item. In some cases, a person with Alzheimer’s may even become suspicious and accuse friends and family of stealing their misplaced possessions.

8.  Reduced judgment skills.  Making an occasional bad decision is fairly typical for all of us.  However, for someone suffering with Alzheimer’s, poor judgment becomes common place.  Sometimes it results in a loss of money, poor grooming and personal hygiene or placing their trust in the wrong person.

9.  Lack of interest in work or social interactions.  Withdrawing from work, social activities or sports is something that also happens to a person with Alzheimer’s.  This may be because they don’t understand the changes they are experiencing or because they don’t remember how to complete work tasks or the rules to a favorite sport.

10.  Changes in temperament. People suffering with Alzheimer’s can experience changes in temperament, mood and personality.  A person who was always easy going may become temperamental and exhibit signs of anxiety, fear, confusion, and suspicion.  They might become angry and get upset easily.

If you have noticed these or other warning signs in your loved one, it may be time for a consultation with their primary care physician.  He or she will be the best person to decide if your concerns about their health are normal aging or something more serious, like Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

We also invite you to call the Elmcroft Senior Living community nearest you for answers to questions related to Alzheimer’s disease.  The experts from our Heartland Village Memory Care program will be happy to help.

The Therapeutic Benefits of Dementia Gardens

By Elmcroft Senior Living

Gardening offers a wide variety of benefits for people of all ages and those with dementia.  It can reduce stress, improve core strength and flexibility, as well as help create a healthier more positive outlook on life.  For people with Alzheimer’s disease, the benefits of dementia sensory gardens are even greater.

Digging in the dirt and helping to create a garden can allow someone with dementia to find purpose and feel at peace.  You can see the joy gardening brings to people with dementia firsthand when you visit any of our Heartland Village programs.

Benefits of Gardening for People with Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease

A few of the many benefits of gardens for dementia patients include:

  • An opportunity to enjoy the outdoors
  • Exercise for the body, mind and spirit
  • Decreased agitation and anxiety
  • Helps promote a better quality of sleep
  • The chance to regain self-confidence
  • Increased feelings of self-worth
  • A chance to find purpose
  • Activity that engages the senses

10 Tips for Creating a Safe Garden for Seniors with Alzheimer’s

While gardening may seem like a fairly low-risk activity, there are precautions you need to take before a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s heads out in to the garden. Creating a safe and structured environment is a necessary part of gardening for people with dementia.

A few suggestions to make sure your senior loved one stays safe in the dementia garden include:

  1. Pre-plan activities you and your loved one can do together in the garden. It might be planting containers or watering the perennials. Try to create a list of garden tasks and activities that don’t require your loved one to follow a lot of directions to be successful.
  2. Have safe garden tools for them to use. Avoid those that have sharp or pointed edges. Scoops and trowels with rounded edges are best.
  3. Remember to help them apply sunscreen before going outside and to wear a hat that shields their face.
  4. Keep a bottle of cold water on hand for your senior family member and remind them to drink frequently while you are gardening.
  5. Because it isn’t uncommon for someone with Alzheimer’s to mistake plants and other objects for food and try to eat them, make sure each planting they will have access to is non-toxic. You can use this website to check if you aren’t sure which plants might be dangerous.
  6. Place benches and seats throughout the garden to give your senior loved one safe spot to rest.
  7. Try to make sure the ground where they will be working is level and free from roots and debris that might increase their risk for a fall.
  8. Incorporate bird feeders and bird baths in to your garden. Bird watching has been proven to help calm agitation and anxiety in people with Alzheimer’s.
  9. Consider having a few raised beds installed in your garden. They are fairly easy and inexpensive to add. Raised beds are safer for older adults because they don’t require the gardener to get up and down to plant and maintain flowers.
  10. Try to create a garden environment that flows in a circle or figure eight. Even if you have to add containers to keep the design of the garden moving forward. Eliminating dead ends in the garden can help minimize confusion and agitation.

Finally, remember not to leave someone living with Alzheimer’s unattended in the garden. It may lead to wandering if they become frightened or are trying to find you.

Resources for Therapeutic Gardening

If you are new to gardening and need a little more advice on how to create a safe dementia garden space, these resources may be of help to you.

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Should You Move an Aging Parent in with You?

As the population of our country continues to grey, more and more adult children find themselves caring for their aging parents and their own young children at the same time. They may be providing physical or financial support to an elderly parent or both. This often occurs while they are working at least part-time outside the home. It sometimes seems like the best solution is to take care of an elderly parent in your home to live with your family.

5 Factors to Consider Before Moving an Aging Parent In

Before caring for elderly parents, there are a few issues to consider:

1. Do you have enough space and how much will it cost to remodel?

Creating a safe environment for an older adult can be expensive.  Widening doorways, creating a fall-free shower, installing grab bars and  more are often necessary. It may be helpful to hire an occupational  therapist to conduct an in-home safety assessment of your home to  determine what needs to be done to keep them safe. Families sometimes discover it is less expensive to buy a new house with an  existing in-law suite rather than try to remodel their current home. But  the costs of selling a home and relocating need to be factored in to  the decision.

2. How do other family members feel about caring for an aging parent?

While it might be more convenient for you to have all of the people you are responsible for living under one roof, not everyone may be thrilled with this decision. Does your parent have a positive relationship with your spouse? How do the children feel about having a new, older addition to the household? The change will impact all of them as well. Finally, is your parent agreeable to this solution? For them the loss of independence and privacy may be a real concern.

3. What are the hidden costs of caregiving?

These are the costs you may overlook when taking care of elderly parents. There will be additional food expenses, costs of transportation to and from appointments, and other personal care incidentals. Another unanticipated expense is a loss of wages. Caregivers are often forced to cut back on their work schedule or leave their job entirely to accommodate an aging parent’s needs. If you aren’t in a position to do so, you may have to incur the expense of in-home care or a privately hired personal care aide.

There may a positive side to providing financial support for an older loved one however. If they meet the IRS requirements to be considered your dependent, you may be entitled to a tax deduction.

4. Are you and your spouse willing to give up your privacy?

Unless your house has a separate wing or suite for your parent, you and your spouse will likely find yourselves giving up some of your privacy. Having an older parent who is unable to leave the house on their own means they will be around all of the time. That can be a challenge for many couples.

5. Have you explored other alternatives that may work better?

If an aging parent has recently been hospitalized or is in the midst of a crisis, it might be necessary to bring them to your home to recover. But it isn’t always the best long-term solution for either of you. There are alternatives that may work better ranging from home care and adult day programs to a moving in to their own apartment at a senior living community. Community programs such as Meals on Wheels can also help a senior maintain their independence longer.

We hope this information helps you make an informed decision about how to meet your aging parent’s need for more support!

19 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

In honor of National Heart Month, we have assembled a list of 19 things you can do to decrease your risk for heart disease or stroke.  Cardiac-related diseases remain the number one killer of both men and women in this country.  Here are a few steps you can take to prevent it:

1. Step away from the salt shaker. Sodium and salt contribute to high blood pressure.

2. Take it easy on caffeine. Too much of it can leave you feeling stressed and anxious.

3. Get moving! Exercise is one of the best ways to manage your weight and lower the risk of heart disease.

4. Eat a healthy breakfast. Oatmeal is a great source of protein and fiber. It can help keep your cholesterol in check while also keeping you feeling full longer.

5. Drink green tea instead of coffee. Some experts believe the antioxidants in green tea help keep your arteries flexible and may help to prevent plaque from building up.

6. Eat sweets sparingly. This seems to be especially true for women. Elevated blood sugar levels in women have been linked to heart disease.

7. Follow the Dash Diet or a Mediterranean style approach to meals. These plant based programs are linked to lower incidence of heart disease.

8. Limit alcohol consumption. One glass of red wine a few days a week is best.

9. Substitute plant based stanol esters like Smart Balance or Benecol for butter and margarine.

10. Get your Zzzzs. Too little sleep often leads to bad choices such as fat-laden comfort foods or skipping exercise.  The general recommendation is 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night.

11. Control stress.  While you probably can’t eliminate stress from your daily life altogether, there are steps you can take to minimize it.  A few ideas include walking, meditating or practicing yoga.

12. Laugh more!  Enjoying a night out with friends or a comedy that makes you laugh out loud is good for your mental and physical health.

13. Get organized. Reducing clutter and organizing your life helps reduce stress and improve mental well-being.

14. Play some of your favorite tunes. Music has documented therapeutic benefits. It can lift your mood and improve positive feelings.

15. Kick the habit. Smoking is a leading cause of heart disease. One out of five heart related deaths in this country is linked to smoking.

16. Keep a daily gratitude journal. It will help you focus on the positive things in your life and decrease the feelings of negativity that are often  linked to stress and depression.

17. Let it go. Holding on to grudges or anger can lead to high blood pressure and increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.

18. Have your cholesterol checked. Controlling cholesterol is an important factor in maintaining a healthy heart.

19. Find a hobby you enjoy. Give yourself time each week to relax and unwind. Some hobbies such as gardening or swimming also help to reduce stress.

To learn more about heart health, visit the American Heart Association’s Resource Center. They share information and resources on topics ranging from nutrition to stress management.

Heart Health Tips for a Heart Smart Lifestyle

Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. One in four deaths, according to the CDC, is linked to heart related conditions.  February is National Heart Awareness Month.  It is a time every year when heart health organizations dedicate additional resources and efforts toward educating the public on the risk factors and what can be done to minimize them.  Many of the leading causes of heart disease are considered to be controllable risk factors.

8 Top Tips for Developing a Heart Smart Lifestyle

First, it is important to understand that there are controllable and uncontrollable factors that put you at risk for heart disease.

There are four primary risk factors for heart disease that can’t be controlled. According to the experts at WebMD those include:

  • Race: African Americans, American Indians, and Mexican Americans are more likely to have heart disease than Caucasians.
  • Gender: Men are at greater risk for heart disease.
  • Age: The older you are, the higher your risk.
  • Family History: Having immediate relatives who have heart disease increases your risk. That includes parents, grandparents, and siblings.

Many things that put you at greater risk for heart disease, however, are controllable. Here are some steps you can take to cut your risk:

  1. Halt the Salt: Reducing your intake of salt and sodium can cut your risk for heart disease and stroke. Sodium Reduction Tips from the CDC can help you find ways to do that.
  2. Go Green: A plant based diet consisting of fruits and vegetables can help cut your risk. If you aren’t quite sure how many you should be eating each day, this fruit and vegetable calculator will help. It uses your age and activity level to make that determination.
  3. Kick the Habit: If you are a smoker or use smokeless tobacco, kicking the habit is the very best step you can take to cut your risk. It is the leading preventable cause of heart disease.
  4. Work It Off: Getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week also helps decrease your risk for heart disease. In addition to helping you look and feel better, it also helps with weight management.
  5. Say “Om” Practicing meditation for even 5 – 10 minutes each day can help lower your blood pressure and reduce the odds for developing cardiac related problems. It can also be a great stress reliever for weary caregivers.
  6. Know Your Numbers: High cholesterol is another leading but preventable cause of heart disease. Make sure you speak with your primary care physician about checking your cholesterol if you haven’t. The American Heart Association recommends having it checked every five years and more often if it is high.
  7. Limit Alcohol: Consuming too many alcoholic beverages can lead to an increase in blood pressure and often times weight gain. Try to limit alcohol consumption to one or two glasses a few times a week.
  8. Control Stress: Finding a hobby that also has therapeutic benefits can reduce caregiving stress. Decreasing anxiety and stress can help you lower your risk for heart disease. Suggestions to consider include Pilates, yoga, gardening, bird watching and swimming.

The American Heart Association is encouraging people to Take the Pledge to cut their intake of salt and lower their risk for heart disease.  When you sign up and take the pledge, you will receive tips and resources to help you protect your heart.

Does Game Playing Keep Your Brain Healthy?

Can playing games really keep your brain fit?  If you are an older adult or the caregiver for one, you may have read that crossword puzzles and other games can give your brain a workout.  If someone you are related to lives with Alzheimer’s disease, you probably wonder if games can really help protect your brain’s health. We decided to dig in to the brain games for the elderly issue a little more.

The Effects of Brain Games for Older Adults

Several studies looked at whether or not programs like Lumosity really work. One was conducted at the University of Michigan and one at Brown University. Both are reputable research institutions. Participants in both groups worked on Lumosity for several hours a day, every day in the lab. The brain training studies lasted several months.

What researchers at both universities found was that seniors who faithfully worked these brain health programs saw improvement in attention span and memory.  It led to a boost in working memory which is essential in helping us complete the activities of daily living.

Then there are the naysayers.  Researchers at Georgia Tech duplicated the study with a group of 11,000 participants over six weeks.  They set tighter study parameters under a more controlled environment.  Their research found that games helped to improve only the process of executing daily tasks.  They didn’t find any evidence to support improvements in any other brain functions from the brain activities for the elderly.

Proven Methods for Keeping Your Brain Healthier

There are other methods you can use to keep your brain fit.  They include:

  • Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. Most researchers agree that high cholesterol can lead to strokes. When your brain is deprived of blood, which is what happens during a stroke, it can cause irreversible damage to brain cells.
  • Stay physically active. Performing thirty minutes of some type of exercise most days of the week is what many physicians recommend to their patients. It can help cut your risk for cardiac problems, stroke and diabetes which can all be linked to different types of dementia.
  • Keep social circles active. Loneliness has been identified as a serious health risk for older adults. It can contribute to a variety of chronic health conditions ranging from depression to obesity. Staying actively involved with family and friends as well as the community is important in later years.

One resource recommended by the experts from Heartland Village, Elmcroft Senior Living’s dedicated memory care program, is the interactive Brain Tour developed by the Alzheimer’s Association.  The step-by-step, guided tour of the brain covers everything from the role neurons play to how Alzheimer’s interrupts the signals healthy brain cells emit.