This virtual health summit brought together the world’s leading experts on Alzheimer’s disease to discuss how it affects families, offer tips to caregivers, and share promising research that can possibly prevent Alzheimer’s.
The event was hosted by journalist Maria Shriver, founder of WAM, and actress and comedian Lauren Miller Rogen, who co-founded HFC with her husband Seth Rogen.
In case you missed this virtual gathering, we’ve summarized the key takeaways so you can help your loved one handle the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease.
Key Takeaways from the Brain it On! Discussion
These key brain health tips are shared to help with prevention of early onset Alzheimer’s. From diet, to physical and mental exercise, they can help our brains age well.
Eating for brain health
In the first session, Celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito talked with Dr. Ayesha Sherzai M.D. about the proper foods to eat to improve brain function.
Dr. Sherzai recommends incorporating the “neuro nine,” the top nine foods to improve brain function:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Whole grains
- Beans and legumes
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Herbs and spices
According to Dr. Sherzai, people who eat these superfoods have younger-looking brains and age better.
Dr. Jennifer Zientz of the Brain Performance Institute spoke about neuroplasticity and neurogenesis, and how the brain has the power to rewire itself every day through new experiences.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to produce new brain cells, something that up until recently, wasn’t thought to exist. According to Dr. Zientz, “We were always taught you were always born with all of your brain cells, that the brain was unchangeable, and that at the end of life, you were kind of left with whatever (brain cells) you were left with.”
We now know that the brain is capable of producing new brain cells through neurogenesis, a process that happens when we stimulate the brain through new experiences, such as making friends, learning new skills, and exercising.
These built-up experiences create what is known as a “cognitive reserve,” which can protect the brain from early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Peace of mind
Incidentally, Dr. Khalsa mentioned that caregivers often have a decreased chance of developing Alzheimer’s later in life, because they have a well-defined purpose in life.
Dr. Khalsa spoke about a new term called “spiritual fitness” that encompasses meditation, spiritual health, and finding a purpose in life to improve psychological well-being.
According to Dr. Khalsa, it’s important to keep up persistent practice and to change one day at a time, “slowly, slowly, slowly.”
Women’s brain health
The decreased production of estrogen after menopause leaves women more susceptible to developing brain diseases later in life than men. For this reason, women make up the majority of Alzheimer’s patients.
Hormone replacement therapy has been tested to gauge whether estrogen replacement can help the brain stave off cognitive diseases later in life. Unfortunately, these types of hormone replacement therapies increase a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer.
Guest speaker Roberta Diaz Brinton of the UA Center for Innovation in Brain Science at the University of Arizona Health Sciences spoke about a new hormone replacement therapy that helps brain health, without the increased chance of developing breast cancer.
The Current Known Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease and Available Treatments
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease that causes dementia. While dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are sometimes used interchangeably, dementia is a general term that encompasses cognitive disorders affecting mood, memory, judgment, and the ability to reason.
The main causes for Alzheimer’s disease specifically are two different kinds of proteins — Tau and Amyloids. When clumped together in the brain, they can block the brain’s ability to communicate with itself. When Tau and Amyloids accumulate and build up in certain parts of the brain, they form what is known as “plaques and tangles.” These are generally not reversible, and lead to gradual atrophying and shrinking of the brain.
Currently, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, although there are medications currently that help patients handle and manage symptoms to improve their memory and cognitive skills.
However, there are new anti-amyloid antibodies, a form of medical intervention that is currently testing whether or not Amyloid buildups can be removed from the brain to improve brain function and prevent early onset Alzheimer’s. These studies are still ongoing.
The Kensington Reston Memory Care Neighborhoods
Our communities specialize in providing a safe, secure, and comfortable option for your loved one living with memory loss, whether they’re experiencing early onset Alzheimer’s or are in the late stages of the disease.
Unlike traditional assisted living communities, our community has an enhanced care license that enables us to provide a higher level of care to our residents.
The Kensington Reston’s community features a team of registered nurses who work around the clock to administer exceptional care. Our campus also has on-site rehabilitation, dining services, life enrichment programs, and a whole host of other amenities.
We specialize in treating memory loss and have two distinct memory care neighborhoods to accommodate our residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Connections is our neighborhood for seniors with early to moderate stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia. This neighborhood is a fully-secured environment that has all the comfort of being at home.
Haven is our neighborhood for seniors with moderate to late stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Our Haven neighborhood provides the highest level of care to our residents who depend on us to help them complete their daily activities. Like Connections, Haven is a fully-secured and safe environment, filled with happy sounds and smells of the kitchen to reignite old memories.
At The Kensington Reston, we extend Our Promise to you: to love and take care of your loved one as we would our own.
If you have a parent, or a loved one who is experiencing memory loss, or has recently gotten out of the hospital and needs additional care, please contact us to learn more about our memory care programs.