Of course you don’t need to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia to benefit from the following brain-boosting strategies – in fact, I’ve begun implementing all of the strategies my father-in-law has shared with me and can feel my clarity and mental powers sharpening more than I even knew they needed to!
During the past 6 years, since my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I’ve watched in awe as her husband of 60 plus years not only lovingly and patiently tends to her needs, but I’ve also observed a man who could barely fire up a computer 6 years ago, now discovering strategies that are helping to keep Mom mentally and physically with us much longer than anyone had predicted!
One book Dad has found extremely helpful was Awakening from Alzheimer’s by Peggy Sarlin. He happily shared the following health discoveries with me in the hopes that my sharing them with you could then help others keep their loved ones from slipping into the distance that comes with Alzheimer’s and/or dementia:
1. Get healthy fats into the brain:
The brain is comprised of mostly fat and water so it stands to reason that the craze of eating a low-fat diet, which became so popular a few decades ago, has had such a detrimental effect upon our fat-starved brains.
Coconut oil and fish oils have been associated with less brain shrinkage and increased memory and thinking capabilities. That’s why Dad sneaks into Mom’s diet as much as ½ cup of non-hydrogenated Coconut Oil daily by:
- Adding it to green smoothies/juices
- Cooking her morning egg (whole eggs, including the important yolk of the egg)
- Using it in place of butter on her morning toast (he’s really limited her grains but she won’t eat her eggs without her one piece of toast)
- Adding it to hot tea or the 1 cup of coffee that she enjoys everyday
- Supplementing her diet with Omega 3 Fish Oils with DHA
2. Eat a whole-foods diet:
That means fresh fruits, veggies, lean meats and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and herring – limit grains to gluten-free varieties such as quinoa.
- Fortunately Dad likes to cook good-old-fashioned meals (from scratch) using vegetables from their garden and does his best to choose organic, free-range foods.
- He’s also limited Mom’s dairy and sugar consumption because of its inflammatory effects.
3. Use powerful supplements:
- Probably the most exciting discovery my father-in-law has made recently was with a Mangosteen product that is organic and free of water or fruit juices that are most often found in other products. After consuming 1 ounce each day the difference in Mom’s mental clarity was remarkable (in Dad’s opinion, and he’s with her 24/7)
- CoQ10 – protects the brain from free radical damage and safeguards brain cells.
- B vitamins – These babies are key in repairing and protecting memory and nerve cell function. He supplements with Complex B vitamins and additional sublingual vitamin B12.
4. Get ‘em moving:
This is a tricky one for Dad because ever since Mom had both knees replaced a couple of years ago and took to enjoying life by sitting in her recliner chair day and night, it’s been tough to inspire her to get the exercise she needs to oxygenate her brain and clear out those cobwebs from her cells.
The weather and icy streets in Calgary certainly don’t help the situation either – but he does manage to sneak in exercise by:
- Taking her shopping a few times each week and to church on Sunday so she doesn’t realize the walking she’s doing is actually exercise.
- During the summer he has her outside and in the sunshine supervising his gardening skills and walking around to admire her growing veggies.
- Drags her out pretty much kicking and screaming for 10 minute walks as often as the weather permits each week.
5. Stimulate the senses:
One of the drawbacks of Alzheimer’s disease is the patient loses interest in socializing and become more and more withdrawn. Dad keeps her senses stimulated by:
- Playing dominos with Mom nearly every day – he usually lets her win to keep her coming back to kick his butt again and again – what a hero this man is!
- Encouraging friends and family to come by for tea visits – just not too many people at one time or in one day (that tends to leave her confused and him exhausted – and he needs his energy)
Every time we visit them I am leaned in with humble curiosity … not only as a health coach, but also as a daughter-in-law … as I learn what love and devotion truly is from this man, someone I now consider one of my most valuable teachers.