3 Methods to Improve Brain Health in Advanced Age

It’s no secret that our minds can gradually weaken the older we get – we find ourselves misplacing our keys more often than usual or walking into a room and forgetting what we wanted to do/get in there. This is all completely natural! We have all been there. However, in light of these “senior moments,” it’s important to keep our brains healthy.

Keep reading for 3 helpful MapHabit™ tips to keep your brain healthy!

 

Tip #1: Move/Exercise Often

Sit less. Move more. We’re sure this tip doesn’t come as any surprise. Of course, we’re not saying you need to join a gym and sign up for the most intensive class on the schedule. Alternatively, we recommend simple moderate exercise at least 4-5 times a week. If you feel comfortable mixing in a few spurts of high-intensity training – like cycling or weight lifting – then go for it! If you want to take things slower, walking for at least 15 minutes each day is a great way to start.

 

Tip #2: Crossword Puzzles/Reading

A highly effective way to keep the brain healthy is by keeping it engaged. Do you love sitting down with a crossword puzzle each morning? Keep it up! Or, grab your favorite James Patterson novel and set a weekly reading goal. According to a recent study at Yale University, those who read at least 3.5 hours each week have a higher chance of living longer. Other activities that are great for engaging the mind include word searches, journaling, sudoku puzzles, or drawing. You could even try sitting down with your grandchildren and helping them with their math homework.

 

Tip #3: Change Your Diet

“You are what you eat,” right? That saying is especially true when it comes to our memory and overall brain health. Of course, many fruits and vegetables enhance brain health, with blueberries being one of the top “brain foods.” Nuts, olive oil, and coffee also make the list. For those of you who love your morning cup of joe, you can now drink it knowing it’s truly good for you! On the flip side, foods to avoid include artificial sweeteners, processed cheeses, and saturated fats. For a more detailed list of which foods are considered “brain food,” click here.

 

We hope you have found these suggestions helpful! If you or a loved one are currently living with any form of impaired memory or dementia, MapHabit™ can help you live better.

 

Subscribe to our newsletter if you’re interested in receiving product updates, memory health tips, and community support.

Join our mailing list to stay current on product updates and memory health tips.

MapHabit @ the AAIC & NDS

MapHabit’s Co-Founders, Matt Golden and Stuart Zola, were at the 19th Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) and the 5th Neurologic Disorders Summit (NDS) conference earlier this month in Los Angeles. MapHabit™ was actively engaged in poster presentations (AAIC) and platform presentations (NDS) and in numerous conversations and discussions with many of the key thought-leaders in the Alzheimer and dementia community. A few of the many important points of understanding that came out of the two conferences and our discussions included the following:

  • Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has become one of the top health priorities in the U.S. More than 5 million Americans currently live with the disease and that number will continue to grow.
  • There is no effective treatment and clinical trials targeting a protein called amyloid (the plaques of AD) have proven to be costly failures.
  • Leaders of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Aging (NIA) believe we have to learn from these failed efforts, and they are bringing together pharma, biotech, philanthropies, and multiple academic institutions to work together in identifying new potential targets for intervention.
  • There is a growing appreciation of the heterogeneity of Alzheimer’s, that is we cannot continue to think of the disease as “one-size-fits-all”. Instead, we need to think of Alzheimer’s as a spectrum, where individuals have different profiles of symptoms and underlying pathology, requiring personalized interventions (personalized medicine).
  • A common theme heard in many presentations was the growing emphasis on studies of life-style behavioral changes that can be effective in reducing vulnerability to cognitive decline and dementia. These include studying diet, multiple forms of exercise, managing sleep, and social and intellectual engagement.
  • An AAIC premeeting workshop on Technology and Dementia convened researchers using technological-based research and interventions, including mobile technology, home-based technology, and social networking in applying novel approaches as potential interventions for individuals with AD and AD-related dementias. MapHabit was seen as an innovative new approach to working effectively with memory-impaired individuals.
  • The MapHabit™ System was a topic of discussion with many of the AAIC and NDS attendees and leaders, and the MapHabit team received a lot of recognition and positive comments throughout the conference. Dr. Zola was invited to chair the NDS session on Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, and Mild Cognitive Impairment.

Overall, MapHabit™ was well-represented and well-recognized by participants at both conferences as being an innovative new company with a focus on evidence-based behavioral approaches that effectively enhance the quality of life for individuals with memory impairment and – importantly – for their caregivers as well.

 

To learn more about how we help those struggling with memory impairment live better, click HERE, and if you or someone you know is interested in staying up to date on the release of our solution in the coming months, follow us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter, or reach out via email at info@maphabit.com.

Join our mailing list to stay current on product updates and memory health tips.

Presentation at the Alzheimer’s Solutions Conference

Co-Founder Matt Golden presents on how the MapHabit™ technology is helping people with memory impairment live better.

Each year, the leading researchers, thoughts leaders, and businesses gather to discuss the latest innovations in Alzheimer’s mitigation and prevention at the Alzheimer’s Solutions Conference. This year, we had the honor of presenting on how we are helping every stakeholder in memory impairment: the patient, caretaker, and patient’s family, work together to restore dignity and maximize independence for those suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and all forms of memory impairment.

We enjoyed a wonderful exchange of ideas with conference attendees and are excited to continue working alongside all those fighting for a future where the only thing people struggle to remember is the damaging effects that memory impairment once had.

To watch the presentation in its entirety, click on the graphic below:

Thanks to InvestAcure, PBC for this great opportunity; the work you are doing is making a difference, and we are looking forward to continuing our partnership in coming years.

To learn more about how we help those struggling with memory impairment live better, click HERE, and if you or someone you know is interested in staying up to date on the release of our solution in the coming months, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or reach out via email at info@maphabit.com.

Join our mailing list to stay current on product updates and memory health tips.

Alzheimer’s Disease and the Promise of Precision Medicine as an Intervention

(Continued)

Written By: Stuart Zola, Ph.D.
Emeritus Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic affairs,
Emeritus Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322
Research Career Scientist (Retired), Atlanta VA Health Care System

Introduction

In my previous post, I discussed the fact that Alzheimer’s disease traditionally has been viewed as a one-size-fits-all medical condition. An important new perspective would be to re-think and re-frame Alzheimer’s disease as a spectrum disorder, much like the evolution of re-thinking and reframing autism to autism spectrum disorder. Considering Alzheimer’s as a spectrum disorder sets the stage for the application of one of the most promising and innovative approaches in modern medicine, personalized, precision medicine.

Precision medicine, sometimes called personalized medicine, refers to the tailoring of medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient. Several core components of precision medicine have been identified, including comprehensive risk assessment, tools for early detection of pathological processes, and interventions tailored to an individual’s drivers of disease. These components, and others, speak to the potential power that precision medicine could have both in identifying specific profiles of Alzheimer’s disease, and, in turn, developing more effective interventions and treatments that can be targeted at specific aspects of the disease, and that can be personalized to individualized treatment.

Considerable research on Alzheimer’s disease is focused on understanding genetic risk. Indeed, a core component of precision medicine are tools for early detection of pathological processes, including genetic mutations and changes, and other approaches that focus on the molecular level, including discoveries of a range of identified biomarkers.

However, it is likely that environmental factors also will be key to risk assessment and to understanding and developing the most effective interventions. For example, it is well known that traumatic head injury increases the risk for Alzheimer’s. There are now established protocols for treating traumatic head injury, as well as individual counseling protocols to reduce future risk in cases of traumatic head injury. These include patient management and frequency of surveillance for preclinical AD. While treatment options for head injury, and for other risk factor conditions, can alter the course of vulnerability to Alzheimer’s for some individuals, it is less effective for others. Precision medicine can begin to help us understand why by uncovering how head trauma might interact with existing but undetected or latent pathophysiological processes and certain genetic dispositions that aim some individuals toward AD vulnerability.

Most recently, an additional effective strategy in precision medicine has been recognition of the potential impact of behavioral assessment tools, because they link so directly to the most obvious defining characteristic of Alzheimer’s, i.e., cognitive decline.

New and innovative behavioral assessment approaches have been developed and aimed at preclinical detection of oncoming cognitive decline based on our understanding of the underlying neurology of memory function. These behavioral assays are fast becoming part of precision medicine approaches because of the ability of these assays to selectively target dysfunction in particular brain regions and even identify specific brain structures. This kind of behavioral information will become invaluable in uncovering the relationships between symptoms in preclinical and established Alzheimer’s disease, the potential biomarkers, genetic markers, and pathophysiologic processes that underlie the disease.

The time is ripe for the convergence of two ideas, i.e., reframing Alzheimer’s disease as a spectrum disorder, and the application of personalized, precision medicine to Alzheimer’s disease as a spectrum disorder. We must come to the realization that there are many profiles of Alzheimer’s disease. The application of precision medicine will be the most effective and efficient way for us to discover and unpack the underlying neurology and genetics of Alzheimer’s profiles so that effective individualized treatments and interventions can be developed. In my next post, I’ll discuss additional behavioral interventions that could turn out useful not for predicting oncoming cognitive decline, but instead for more effectively managing individuals who are already affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Stuart Zola is Co-Founder of MapHabit™. Learn more about MapHabit’s™ work to help people with memory impairment live better HERE.

Join our mailing list to stay current on product updates and memory health tips.

Alzheimer’s Disease as a Spectrum Disorder

And The Promise of Precision Medicine as an Intervention to the Spectrum of Symptoms

Written By: Stuart Zola, Ph.D.
Emeritus Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic affairs,
Emeritus Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322
Research Career Scientist (Retired), Atlanta VA Health Care System

Overview

Alzheimer’s disease traditionally has been viewed as a one-size-fits-all medical condition. Thinking of Alzheimer’s disease as a single disease state assumes that there is a single “magic bullet” that once found will effectively treat or cure all patients. However, as we know, there is no disease-modifying therapy for this disease yet, and despite several decades of research no cure and no effective treatments have been forthcoming. Interventions to stop, slow, or prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s are a world-wide healthcare imperative. In this regard, the present commentary proposes the following point for consideration:

Alzheimer’s disease should be reframed as a spectrum disorder (much like the reframing of autism), and as such individual Alzheimer’s patients will need to be profiled differently to maximize the efficacy of treatment and preventive measures.

Alzheimer’s Disease as a Spectrum Disorder

While earlier criteria for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease were based on clinical criteria alone, new criteria for Alzheimer’s disease have been recently established that now includes the clinical characteristics of Alzheimer’s as well as the pathological features of the disease. The new criteria include the use of imaging and other biomarkers to aid in diagnosis and in understanding the underlying neurologic and genetic bases for behavioral changes associated with Alzheimer’s. Additionally, clinical features are now being supplemented with innovative behavioral assessment tools that currently are being validated and that can inform us further about the spectrum of Alzheimer’s disease.

A little medical history is helpful here. Some years ago, the condition known as autism was considered a “one-size-fits-all” condition. Research and clearer understanding of the condition did not advance until the condition became re-framed as autism-spectrum disorder. That is, although there was a core set of symptoms that helped define autism, it became clear that individuals could have different patterns and combinations of those symptoms. Importantly, the view developed that the evidence that one size did not fit all meant that treatments might more effectively be tailored to a particular individual’s pattern or profile of symptoms. Hence, the terminology of spectrum disorder.

In the field of Alzheimer’s disease, studies have begun to reveal varied patterns of behavioral changes and abnormalities. Many of these studies point to the fact that not all patients exhibit the same range and severity of behavioral abnormalities associated with Alzheimer’s and there are different profiles. Some behavioral changes do not seem directly correlated with impairments in cognition, for example. In a study of behavioral changes in Alzheimer’s disease where the frequency and severity of ten commonly reported behaviors were assessed, it was reported that the most common behavior was apathy, exhibited by 72% of the patients, followed by agitation (60%), anxiety (48%), dysphoria (38%), and disinhibition (36%). Agitation, dysphoria, and apathy were significantly correlated with cognitive impairment, but many other behavioral measures were not.

These findings, and others, point to the idea that despite having a diagnosis of AD, individual patients can have quite different clinical/behavioral profiles, and while some behavioral changes can be linked to cognitive changes, others are not.

Patterns of behavioral changes can be variable from patient to patient, even within a diagnostic category, e.g., mild, moderate or severe Alzheimer’s. When the cumulating research is taken together, it suggests that a perspective on Alzheimer’s disease could benefit from rethinking it and reframing it as a spectrum disorder. Moreover, considering Alzheimer’s as a spectrum disorder sets the stage for the application of one of the most promising and innovative approaches in modern medicine: personalized, precision medicine. I’ll discuss that development in my next post.

Dr. Stuart Zola is Co-Founder of MapHabit™. Learn more about MapHabit’s™ work to help people with memory impairment live better HERE.

Join our mailing list to stay current on product updates and memory health tips.