How to Slow Down Alzheimer’s Disease

By Sheila Kun RN, BSN, MS, CPN, FCCP

For years we were under the assumption that there is nothing really you can do once you are diagnosed with this horrifying condition of dementia – Alzheimer. It feels like a death sentence as your brain is not working properly. You will get worse and eventually succumb to the disease. On September 21, 2019, from NBC news, there is a glimpse of hope for Alzheimer patients reported. There are possible ways to slow down its progression. The SHEILD approach is what I would like to share with you this week.

‘S’ stands for sleep

“It’s during deep sleep that you clean your brain of debris. Seven to eight hours of sleep a night is essential.”  The role of sleep in the medical world is still in its infancy; we do not fully understand how while you are dreaming, the brain is refreshed. We are looking forward to more information with future research.

‘H’ stands for handling stress.

Stress carries with it all the mental and physiological changes that affect our heart, our thinking and many bodily functions. The ability to face bad situations and handle anxiety sounds like a good direction to follow.

‘I’ is for interacting with friends. We have discussed in our Care Ministry the negative of isolation and depression. It makes sense to be connected with friends.

‘E’ is for exercise. Do you still remember we said “exercise is medicine?” Keeping yourself in good shape.

‘L’ is for learning new things.

Learning new things can help you make new synapses (a junction between two nerve cells, consisting of a minute gap across which impulses pass by diffusion of a neurotransmitter), the bottom line is in Alzheimer’s, the degree of dementia correlates most with the loss of synapses.

‘D’ is for diet.

Recent studies point to the benefits of a diet rich in leafy green vegetables, beans, olive oil, nuts and poultry. It’s recommended to avoid red meat, sweets and fried foods.

The SHIELD method seems easy and manageable. Even without the diagnosis of Alzheimer, I personally feel that this is what most of you are doing already; sleep good 7-8 hours, handle stress appropriately as you have seen it all, interest in learning good things, exercise to put yourself active, learn new things and exercise moderation and good choices in your diet. If you have adopted the SHIELD method, I congratulate you; you are on the right track. If these are new approaches to improving your brain health, it is never too late to start.

Your homework assignment from the Care Ministry this week: Check out the SHIELD method and share with a friend.

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