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Five Brain Health Reminders for Family Caregivers

Taking care of a loved one can be time consuming, demanding work. Although the rewards are often greater than the cost, researchers brain-in-hand-1312350have found that family caregiving can have an impact on brain health, including increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. With these preventative steps, make sure you take care of yourself while you are giving care to your family.

1. Getting Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep is one risk of caregiving. When caring for an Alzheimer’s patient, sleep disturbances occur often, which can affect the sleep of the caregiver. Sleep is one of the most important brain processes that promotes brain health and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia by removing harmful waste products and building long term memory.

If you are struggling to find time to sleep, or your sleep is interrupted, talk to your doctor about possible solutions, such as respite care.

2. Getting Enough Exercise

Although you may feel as though you are constantly on the go, caregivers often do not get an adequate amount of exercise. It is tempting to lounge on the couch in front of your favorite show after a long day, but more active options include taking a brisk walk or following an exercise video. Exercise stimulates blood flow to the brain, increasing the brain’s ability to make connections important for memory function.

3. Regular Healthcare Appointments

Equally important to the healthcare appointments of your loved ones are your own regular check-ups. Illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, and hearing and vision loss can onset silently during the busy time of caregiving. These conditions increase risk of brain related health issues. Prevent these maladies by scheduling your own appointments regularly, and do not wait if you suspect an issue with your physical health.

4. Eating a Healthy Diet

Good nutrition is essential to brain health. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats can promote brain health while saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, and processed sugar can increase the risk of dementia. Stay away from empty calories, and keep healthy, nutritious snacks on hand. Fresh, unprocessed foods are the key to maintaining proper brain health.

5. Staying Mentally and Socially Active

Socializing with friends and interacting with a variety of people can protect your health by relieving stress and reduces risks of memory loss. If you feel guilty about leaving your loved one behind, you can choose activities in which your loved one can participate. Feeling guilty is normal, but make sure you are also mentally and socially stimulated. Some social activities can include going to museums, taking a cooking or painting class, or playing an instrument. Be sure to interact with other people, especially those who deal with the same stresses of being a caregiver. In the end, it will make you a better caregiver for your loved one.

Finding the Time

Many caregivers may scoff at the ideas listed above. It may seem impossible to find time for yourself amidst caring for a busy family and a dependent loved one. Your mental and physical health is dependent on the time you decide to invest in yourself. Invest in your health, and you are investing in your loved ones as well. Ask others to help you manage the stresses as you move through the challenges of caregiving, and you will not regret protecting your health and your brain.

Source: http://www.caringnews.com/en/143/1/243/Five-Brain-Health-Reminders-for-Family-Caregivers.htm

About Sacred Heart Villa

The Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ created Sacred Heart Villa (formerly St. Michael Convent) in 2003 with the vision of providing a personal care home for the Sisters and other seniors of southeastern Pennsylvania. The Sisters renovated St. Michael in order to create 35 personal care residential rooms. Sacred Heart Villa officially opened her doors to her first new residents in May 2004, with space for 57 Sisters and 40 other senior residents.  The facility has two residential buildings, a remodeled dining room, a new fireside lounge, library, café and beauty shop. The chapel remains in the middle of the facility for it truly is the Heart of the community. Each new residential room provides an individual with privacy, safety and security in an environment of beauty and grace. Mass is celebrated each day and is open to the public.

Sacred Heart Villa is now accepting residents. If you are seeking care for yourself or loved one, contact Sacred Heart Villa today at 610-929-5751 for a tour. You can also visit http://sacredheartvillapa.org. or visit us at http://www.sacredheartvillapa.org/.