Inova Health System and The Kensington Reston: The Brain Health Project

Inova Health System and The Kensington Reston: The Brain Health Project

The Kensington Reston and INOVA Health System recently partnered to put on an interactive presentation called Boosting Brain Health Through Engagement. This is a continuation of our brain health education series.

Our presentation delved into the ways we can all boost our brain health through engagement and gave an overview of Inova’s future brain health initiatives. 

The webinar was moderated by Angela Bailey, the Executive Director of The Kensington Reston, and featured:

  • Dr. Hillary Goetz, Neuropsychologist with Inova
  • Dr. James M. Ecklund, Chairman of Neuroscience, Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
  • Dr. Dan Larriviere, System Division Chief of Neurology in the Inova Service Line of Inova Health System

In case you missed the event, we’ll list the key takeaways so you can begin to improve your brain health immediately.

Key Takeaways: Boosting Brain Health Through Engagement

Inova’s Brain Health Program is focused on studying brain health and performance in decision-making, problem-solving, creativity, achievement, resilience, and well-being.

In particular, Inova is focused on cognitive resistance, resilience, reserve, and training.

If you’d like to learn more and watch the presentation, click here.

What Affects Brain Health?

There are many factors that affect your brain health, and many of them take place outside of the brain. 

Dr. James M. Ecklund, Chairman of Neuroscience at Inova, kickstarted the event by discussing the many factors that affect brain health:

  • Nutrition
  • Obesity
  • Exercise 
  • Sleep
  • Controlling stress
  • Humor/laughter
  • Multitasking
  • Depression
  • Being social
  • Building a cognitive reserve (continuous learning, creativity, completing puzzles and projects)

Tips to Optimize The Brain’s Current Abilities

Dr. Hillary Goetz, Neuropsychologist with Inova, gave some tips on how people can optimize their brains to enhance focus, beat stress, and become more efficient.

Ways to Enhance Focus

Enhance your focus by stripping away extraneous stimulations that can distract your focus, such as by doing the following:

  • Set up an environment to reduce distractions
  • Turn off music or TV
  • Complete tasks individually, not multitasking

Strategically Allocate Cognitive Energy

You can’t always get more energy, but you can use your brain’s energy more efficiently to improve performance:

  • Identify two biggest priorities
  • Block out 30-45 minutes of time
  • Don’t lose the forest for the trees 
  • Keep the big picture in mind and don’t get bogged down with details when processing information
  • Identify the top two takeaways from a piece of information
  • Practice the skills of synthesis and abstraction to try and explain something simply 

Beat Stress

Stress is a productivity killer that can seriously waste mental energy. To combat stress and its effects, try to build in downtime to recharge your mental energy:

  • Take 5-minute breaks several times a day
  • Slowly enjoy a sip of coffee
  • Stretch and go for a walk

Get 8 Hours of Sleep

Sleeping helps the brain reset, consolidate memories, and regulate hormones. It’s important to get a full 7-9 hours of sleep.

Improve Heart Health

It’s been said that improving your brain health is similar to improving your heart health. Exercise regularly, eat a nutritious diet, and avoid tobacco products.

Can Alzheimer’s Disease be Prevented?

Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be brought on by microscopic deposits of protein in the brain, called plaques.

While there is a hereditary link, doctors still don’t quite understand why some people are more susceptible than others to developing Alzheimer’s.

However, there are things people can do to improve their health to decrease their chances of developing Alzheimer’s. Many of these activities are not only good for the mind, but also for the heart, which can contribute to better overall health:

  • Manage blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise
  • Challenge your mind
  • Avoid tobacco products
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 

What Activities Engage People with Alzheimer’s?

Cognitive health is just one of the aspects of brain health. Many other factors affect brain health, such as physical health, spiritual health, and staying socially active.

Below is a list of activities that can build a cognitive reserve and improve health and happiness for people with Alzheimer’s:

  • Engage in life enrichment activities
  • Take up a new hobby, such as learning photography, quilting, knitting, etc.
  • Visit with friends and family
  • Preparing dinner arrangements
  • Gardening
  • Going to the park
  • Playing with pets
  • Playing a game, such as a puzzle 
  • Bake cookies

Benefits of Living in an Assisted Living Community

When a resident moves into an assisted living community, they gain access to many conveniences and amenities that make their lives simpler and more enjoyable. One of the greatest features assisted living communities offer is recreational activities and social interactions.

Being surrounded by friends and engaged in social activities has been proven to enhance the lives of people living with Alzheimer’s.

Frequent social interaction can improve cognitive function, slow down the effects of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and reduce agitation and loneliness.

Assisted living and memory care communities also provide care to those who need extra help completing their activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing, dressing, laundry, dining services, and taking medication.

Many assisted living communities also feature on-site rehabilitation, making it easier for seniors to get access to skilled rehabilitation specialists who can improve their mobility.

Find Quality Memory Care at The Kensington Reston

The Kensington Reston is an enhanced assisted living, dementia care, Alzheimer’s care, and memory care community located in Reston, Virginia.

At The Kensington Reston, our goal is to make the world a better place for people living with dementia and their families.

We offer excellent quality of care for our residents, including 24-hour on-site nursing staff, and dedicated care managers.

Our community has an Enhanced Assisted Living Residence (EALR) license, which allows us to provide a higher continuum of healthcare not normally seen in other communities. This license enables us to provide medication administration, including diabetes injections.

Our memory care community is specially designed to help those in all stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia with our two distinct memory care neighborhoods — Haven and Connections.

At the Kensington Reston, we extend Our Promise to you to love and care for your family as we would our own.

If you’re the caregiver of a person with memory loss, please contact us today to learn how our memory care community can provide exceptional care for your loved one.

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