Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Benefits, Sources and More

Illustration of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Source: Free Images

Overview

How many of us have heard our parents say “Eat your fish! It is brain food!”? Well, even if you were a spiteful kid and didn’t listen, take note – they are right! 

Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (a covalent bond that contains four electrons in the outer shell of the atom). They are found in sunflower, flaxseed oils, as well as fish and walnuts, which are essential nutrients that play a vital role in the functioning of the human body, especially the brain, but your body cannot make these fatty acids. To nourish your body with these important ingredients, you need to eat the proper foods that contain them.

This guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about Omega 3 fatty acids, including their benefits, sources, recommended daily intake, and more. You will learn why they are essential for optimal health and how to incorporate them into your diet. 

With this information, you can make sure you are getting the most out of these nutrients and living a healthier life. Let’s get started!

Starting at the Beginning – What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Plate of uncooked salmon
Image by Piotr Eliasz from Pixabay

As mentioned, these are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) found in certain plants and marine animals.

They are considered essential nutrients for humans because the body is unable to produce most of them and consequently, we must get them from the food we eat. 

There are three types of Omega 3 fatty acids: 

      • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): ALA is found in plants, and is the only type of Omega 3 fatty acid that can be produced by the human body. However, the human body can only convert a very small percentage of ALA into EPA and DHA. 
      • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): Found in fish and fish oils 
      • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): Also found in fish and is an important nutrient for normal brain function in adults. Additionally and even more essential is that DHA plays a significant role in the development of the brain of infants. Experts have repeatedly stated that consumption of DHA in your diet will improve your learning ability, and lack of it has been related to a deficiency in learning.

Plant sources are mostly ALA (Alpha-lipoic acid) – A naturally occurring compound, but very little is converted into EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid)Therefore, it is important to consume more ALA foods that convert into EPA and DHA.  

Benefits 

Omega 3 fatty acids are an essential part of the function of the cell receptors. They have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke and may help control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis,

Besides improved brain health, these healthy fats have additional benefits that include improved heart health, possible reduced cancer risks, and other conditions such as mood and reduced inflammation. Let’s take a look at each of these benefits in more detail.

      • Improved heart health: Helps to reduce triglycerides, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. These three factors are important for heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease.
      • Improved mood: Helps to reduce the risk of depression and promote feelings of happiness, and as mentioned, they help to promote brain health and may assist in improving symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 
      • Reduces risk of dementia: Helps to reduce the risk of developing conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia. They also help to improve symptoms associated with depression, ADHD, and anxiety
      • Reduced inflammation: Omega 3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation throughout the body, which can lead to reduced risk of diseases like arthritis. 
      • Other benefits: Helps to reduce blood sugar and blood pressure, improves skin health, and promotes weight loss.

Sources 

Package of Flax Seeds
Seeds such as Flax and Chia can be found in any major grocery store. Photo: ©SMS

Flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, fish, marine algae, and fish are some of the main sources of Omega 3 fatty acids.

Let’s take a look at the different sources of Omega 3 fatty acids and their benefits.

      • Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds are a great source of ALA, which can be converted into EPA and DHA. The seeds are also rich in fiber and have a nutty taste and texture. They can be added to salads, baked goods, or other dishes. 
      • Chia seeds: This is a great source of ALA and fiber. They can be mixed into yogurt or added to salads. 
      • Walnuts: Walnuts are a great source of ALA and also provide some protein and healthy fats. They can be added to salads or eaten as a snack.
      • Fish: Fish is the best source of EPA and DHA and can be eaten regularly. Fish is also a great source of protein as well. 
      • Marine algae: Marine alga is a good source of EPA and DHA, but it is much less common than fish. It can be consumed as a powder or in capsules. Marine algae are also rich in other minerals.

Best Fish for Omega 3

Salmon on a plate
Photo: Graphic Stock

Researchers have said that the following are your best sources of omega-3 fatty acids:

      • Salmon
      • light tuna
      • Sardines
      • Cod
      • Atlantic mackerel
      • Herring
      • Trout

Recommended Daily Intake 

The recommended daily intake (RDI) of Omega 3 fatty acids varies between different age groups. The RDI of Omega 3 fatty acids for infants is 0.5 grams, while it is 1.5 grams for adults. 

The RDI increases with age, which is important to remember. It is also important to note that these RDIs are based on ALA, not EPA or DHA. Although the RDIs are based on ALA, it is important to get enough EPA and DHA in the diet to promote health. 

Let’s take a look at how much Omega 3 fatty acids each age group should consume.

    • Infants: 0.5 grams
    • Babies are not able to consume fish, which is the best source of EPA and DHA. Breast milk contains some Omega-3 fatty acids, but it is important to supplement with additional Omega-3 fatty acids. Talk to your doctor about the best infant formula and infant formulas with added Omega 3. – Children: 1.5 grams
    • Children are growing and their brains are developing. It is important to ensure that children consume enough Omega 3 fatty acids to promote proper brain health. Fish is the best source of EPA and DHA and can be eaten regularly.
    • Teenagers and adults: 5 grams – As we get older, we are less able to convert ALA into EPA and DHA. It is important to get enough EPA and DHA in the diet, especially as we age. It is also important to eat a healthy and balanced diet during this time to ensure that the body gets everything it needs.
    • Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 6 grams – It is important to get enough Omega 3 fatty acids when pregnant and breastfeeding to ensure proper brain development in the baby. Fish is the best source of EPA and DHA and should be eaten regularly.

How to Incorporate Omega 3 Fatty Acids Into Your Diet

It can’t be emphasized enough that the best way to get these fatty acids is to eat more fish and marine algae. 

      • Eat more fish – Fish is the best source of EPA and DHA and can be eaten regularly. You can also eat other marine animals like shellfish, but it is best to limit these.
      • Eat more plant-based sources – Flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are great sources of ALA. You can add them to salads, baked goods, or add them to yogurt. – Eat more marine algae 
      • Marine algae is the best source of EPA and DHA. It can be consumed as a powder or in capsules. 
      • Take fish oil supplements. Fish oil supplements can be taken regularly to get the recommended daily intake of Omega 3 fatty acids.

Potential Risks

The main risk is consuming too much fish and not getting enough nutrients from other food sources. It is important to get nutrients from other foods to avoid an imbalance in the diet. Another potential risk is consuming too many marine algae and not consuming enough other nutrients. 

All in all, consuming too much Omega 3 fatty acids is not likely to cause any serious side effects. It is important to consume the recommended daily intake to get the benefits associated with them. Besides, marine algae are rich in minerals and vitamins, so it is unlikely to cause any side effects. Fish oil supplements, on the other hand, are not as rich in nutrients, so it is important to get enough nutrients from other sources to avoid an imbalance in the diet.

Supplements

If you are having trouble incorporating enough Omega 3 fatty acids into your diet, supplements can be a great option. 

 

What are Free Radicals and How to Counter Them with Antioxidants?

Antioxidant Red Banner
Wordcloud illustration of antioxidants. Bigstock

You might have heard about the negative effects of free radicals and how antioxidants are used to remove them. However, very few of us know what free radicals are and how they work against the human body to inflict harm.

In this article, we discuss how free radicals affect our health and how we can alleviate their harmful effects with the help of antioxidants.

What are Free Radicals?

Chemical Illustration of an atom with a missing electron
Chemical Illustration of an atom with a missing electron, causing it to become a free radical. Photo: CC Wikipedia

Electrons, when not paired in their atomic orbits are highly unstable. A free radical is a name given to an atom that possesses an unpaired electron, meaning a missing electron, and subsequently, produces unstable cells that can damage our cell membranes.

 The process by which atoms lose electrons is called oxidation and this is not a healthy process for us humans (or any animal) and it can result in a variety of illnesses. When the free radicals are successful, they set off an oxidative chain reaction that can affect hundreds of millions of molecules and consequently, inhibits the cells that work to keep our bodies healthy.

Let’s see how free radicals operate.

Reactions of Free Radicals in Our Body

As mentioned. when free radicals are formed, they try to obtain electrons from different molecules, be it proteins, fats, cell membranes, or genetic molecules; in other words, they try to steal electrons from the atoms of the nutrients that work to keep us healthy. The removal of an electron from any such molecule changes its basic state and triggers an oxidative chain reaction. This phenomenon caused by free radicals is known as oxidative stress.

What is the Free Radical Theory of Aging?

According to the free radical theory of aging, organisms age because their biological cells accumulates oxidative damage of free radicals over time. Even though the debate on the authenticity of this theory is still ongoing,  research studies have agreed on the fact that oxidative stress can lead to this degeneration.

For instance arthritis, heart problems, Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, and many other health complications can be caused by the prevalence of free radicals.

According to the free radical theory of aging, if oxidative destruction caused by free radicals can be capped, then it can provide longevity to any living being.

So, have we found the fountain of youth?  Most likely not, but have we found a way to keep us healthy to the point that we may live longer? Absolutely.

Sources of Free Radicals

To counter the effects of free radicals, it is imperative to know how they originate. They can be produced within the body or we get exposed to them from external sources. Whatever the case, knowing where they come from, holds the key to getting rid of them!

Internal Sources of Free Radicals

 

      • The human body needs the energy to survive and grow. This energy comes from breaking down the food that we eat into ATP molecules with the help of oxygen. This chemical reaction also produces free radicals as a byproduct.
      • Free radicals are also produced when the body undergoes severe stress levels or inflammation (the process by which the body moves to protect itself against harm; e.g. cutting yourself while shaving – white blood cells run to protect from the injury).
      • There are a host of other ways that free radicals can occur. Our job is to keep them at bay by exercising, eating the right foods, and avoiding unnecessary stress.

Sources of Free Radicals

 

nicotine cigarettes in ashtray
Do you really want this kind of nicotine in your body? Photo: Pxhere

What should we stay away from? Let’s start with fried foods. Not only are they bad for your weight, but how they are cooked causes free radicals to develop. 

There are lots of harmful external resources that can expose the human body to free radicals as well, as indicated below.

  • Industrial pollution (including chemicals and smoke)
  • Radiation
  • Pesticides
  • Toxic Metals
  • Cigarette Smoke

It is practically impossible to get rid of external free radicals altogether since they are all around us, in the air we breathe and in the food and water we consume. The best practice is to try and minimize their levels in your body.

How to do this? Read on for more information.

Antioxidants: Crusaders Against Free Radicals

 

Illustration of how Antioxidant Works Against Free Radicals
Antioxidant donates a missing electron to a Free radical. Now all electrons are paired. Photo: Bigstock

As the name suggests, antioxidants are substances that inhibit the process of oxidation. Introducing antioxidants in the body means that you can stop the oxidative process, officially called oxidative stress.

How Do Antioxidants Inhibit Free Radicals?

Antioxidants stop free radicals from inflicting damage by donating the electron they are looking for.

Like free radicals, some antioxidants are produced within the body, while others can be consumed through dietary products and supplements. Fruits and vegetables are some of the best sources of antioxidants, but there are other foods as well.

There are several other antioxidants, which although not as vital as the ones mentioned above are also necessary for combating the negative effects of free radicals.

    • Lycopene
    • Vitamin C and E
    • Anthocyanins
    • Selenium
    • Polyphenols
    • Curcuminoids

What Foods Contain the Highest Amounts of Antioxidants?

Assortment of Vegetables
Eating fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to gain antioxidants. Photo: Maxpixel

Coffee has been known to contain high levels of antioxidants, but here’s a short list of some other foods that contain antioxidants:

  • Green Tea
  • Dark chocolate
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Potatoes

Making Sense of It All

Antioxidants are free radical killers. They reduce the formation of ions or free radicals and work towards donating an electron. Once the cell has its missing entity – the electron, the free radical is neutralized. The idea is to maintain the availability of antioxidants by eating the right foods and avoiding external resources such as smoking and alcohol.

In general, you can make sure that your body has access to antioxidants by adjusting your dietary habits around fruits and vegetables. Plant-based foods are one of the richest sources of micronutrients and antioxidants, and both of these substances are necessary to rid the body of free radicals.

Bottom Line

Cells that have missing electrons in the body are bad news. If these guys are allowed to accumulate, they can become very harmful to us. There are many ways that oxidation can occur within our bodies. But there is a hero – Antioxidants – molecules that search for and neutralize these free radicals. We can obtain antioxidants by consuming foods and drinks rich in antioxidants daily.

Dementia Cases Decline Significantly in the US due to Better Health Care

The rate of dementia has declined significantly in the US. This claim has been made by two recent studies that found that the number of people suffering from the disease has declined since 2000 due to healthy lifestyle changes by the individuals.

Previously, health experts had predicted that the number of people suffering from dementia and other similar diseases will increase at the rate of 40 percent in the next ten years.

However, a number of recent studies that have analyzed dementia cases found that the rate of the disease has not only fallen sharply in the past decade but will decrease even further in the coming years due to better healthcare choices by the individuals.

Declining Cases of Dementia

A study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal found that the number of people suffering from dementia has declined by 2.8 percent from 2000 to 2012.

According to John Haaga of the National Institute of Aging that had funded the study, the overall decrease in the incidence of the disease equates to about one million fewer people in 2012 that were suffering from dementia as compared to 2000.

The study also found that dementia is more common in senior adults. Around 30 percent of senior persons aged over 85 were reported to have dementia in 2012 as compared to just 3 percent of senior individuals aged between 65 and 74.

Another study that was published in the Alzheimer’s and Dementia journal also found a decreased rate of dementia. While the previous study concentrated on the white people in the US, this study had concluded its results after examining African-American individuals in the recent decades. 

The researchers of the study stated that the decline in the cases of dementia could be due to lower risk factors that contributed to circulation related illnesses including high blood pressure and smoking. The study indeed found that the rate of stroke and heart failure had declined significantly among the participants.

Another contributing factor for the declined rate of dementia might be greater awareness and improved medical treatments. In the 1970s and 1980s, people that had a stroke were about nine times likely to develop dementia. In the 2000s the risk of developing the disease in case of a stroke had declined to two times.

Final Remarks

Healthier lifestyle and improved medical treatments for dementia patients have led to a significant decline in the reported cases. Increased physical activity and healthy diet have greatly reduced the risk of cardiovascular diseases, dementia, and other similar health disorders. In addition, keeping the brain healthy by playing brain games such as chess, tetris, or strategy games can also prevent the onset of dementia in individuals. It depends on the individual to make sure they are following a healthy lifestyle to keep them safe from diseases like dementia. Also, with the advent of medical treatments and increase in their availability, the cases of dementia are further hoped to lessen in the future.

How to Reduce the Risk of Dementia

 
Dementia Patient
Photo: Pixabay

Introduction

Microsoft CEO Bill Gates recently donated $50 million to Alzheimer’s research in the hope that a cure can be found within our lifetime. Gates said, “It’s a terrible disease that devastates both those who have it and their loved ones,”.  He should know, as he has had relatives who have suffered from and succumbed to the disease. This alone should make us vigilant of the risks of dementia.

His donation is going to the Dementia Discovery Fund.  A private-public organization that consists of a team of neuroscientists and field experts devoted to dementia research. The DDF has offices in England and the United States and collaborates with major drug companies and other research institutions.

What Exactly is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Synapse in the Brain
The synapse is the space between the neural connectors

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia in humans and was first described in 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer.

It is the result of amyloid plaque buildup between synapses. Synapses are the spaces between the connection of the neurons. These connections between neurons form our cognitive process and maintain our memory.

Under normal circumstances, the plaque dissipates and our brain continues to process our thought patterns as they normally would, but as we age, the plaque can stubbornly remain between the synapses; subsequently, it will interfere with cognitive functioned memory and become one of those brain functions that is affected. Amyloid protein is toxic to neurons and if not removed, it can eventually cause their death. The loss of neurons is called brain atrophy and loss of memory is one of the consequences.

What Can Be Done to Avoid Amyloid Plaque Buildup Between Synapses?

The Neural Network in the Human BrainThe primary objective is to avoid protein buildup between synapses. Although there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, we can take some precautionary actions to help fight against stubborn plaque that won’t go away.

Can Drugs Help?

Today it affects almost 36 million people with scientists working hard to find ways to prevent, treat and cure this debilitating illness. Recent studies have shown that gene mutations play a role in the disease. In the last 20 years, progress has appeared hopeful. The FDA approved the first Alzheimer’s combo drug Namzaric in 2014 and an array of other drugs are currently in development; however, more research needs to be done before it is proven that these drugs are helping.

Sleep Well

Woman sleeping with blindfoldStudies have shown that good sleep habits are a primary booster for keeping the area between the neural connections clean, so make sure you get the recommended amount of eight hours per night. If you have trouble sleeping, see the advice of your medical professional, because poor sleep habits can weaken the neural network and have adverse effects on your daily activities, such as driving and working on machinery. In addition, lack of sleep slows down the process of healing from any ailments you may have.

Bottom line: Good sleep helps to rejuvenate your body and mind.

Exercise

A cure-all for almost every disease. Exercise keeps the blood running and strengthens just every organ in the body. There are so many benefits to frequent exercise, it is beyond the scope of this article to get detailed. For this blog, let’s focus on the fact that proper exercise will help keep your neural network strong.

How About Some Mediterranean Food?

Consider a Mediterranean diet – Great for the heart and when the heart is healthy, so is the brain!.! Specifically, if you have heart ailments, ensure you are under the proper medical care and medication. Proper care of the heart helps not just the heart but also helps reduces the amount of plaque that could build up in the synapses.

Learn New Things

Not just crossword puzzles, as you are just refreshing what you already know. Better to learn something that you have not known before. This creates new neural connections, which is a healthy ‘food’ for your brain. Adding mentally stimulating activities in any form of learning is advantageous.

There is a case of one 62-year-old man who decided to pick up where he left off in math studies when he was in college so many years ago. He found an online course in Linear Algebra and diligently managed through it. He was successful and felt a great sense of accomplishment, but what went unnoticed was the addition of millions of new neurons that were created during his studies. A great model for the rest of us regarding how to keep our mind stay healthy!

Yoga Anyone?

Man practicing yoga on the beach

An additional lifestyle change that can be beneficial for brain health and reduce dementia risk is yoga. A recent study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that a 3-month yoga and meditation course may reduce older adults’ risk of mild cognitive impairment. The study was led by Dr. Helen Lavretsky from UCLA’s Department of Psychiatry. Her team found that participants who practiced yoga and meditation showed greater improvement in visual-spatial memory skills than the group that only participated in memory enhancement training.

The yoga meditation group also did better with coping skills, stress resilience, and levels of anxiety and depression. After the participant’s brain activity was assessed, the researchers found improvements in verbal and visual-spatial memory correlated with changes in brain connectivity.

These changes are important to note since mild cognitive impairment (MCI) has no currently approved medications to treat it. MCI can also worsen over time and increase the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia-related diseases, therefore risk reduction is important in adults over the age of 65.

Studies have shown that drinking a few cups of coffee a day are have proven to be good for the brain. A review of evidence found that moderate coffee consumption, between three to five cups a day, may reduce Alzheimer’s risk by up to 20 percent.

If you want to help find a cure for this devasting disease, contact the Dementia Discovery Fund or the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

Sleep well, eat wed exercise. Try yoga and meditation and don’t forget your daily coffee! 

 

Minibrains Could Help in Treatment of Alzheimer’s Patients

Alzheimer’s is an untreatable progressive brain disease that slowly devastates the memory and conceptual skills of the affected individual. The disease was first identified by Dr. Alois Alzheimer in 1906 after he noticed remarkable changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died after suffering from a mysterious mental disease.

Minibrains in Minibrains Alzheimer’s

Her symptoms included language problems, memory loss, and erratic behavior. Today, persons showing these symptoms are said to be suffering from Alzheimer’s. Around 5.4 million people in the US suffer from Alzheimer’s. The majority of the affected individuals are aged 65 and older. Persons suffering from the disease have abnormally tangled bundles of fibers known as neurofibrillary and clumps called amyloid plaques in the brain. No cure for Alzheimer’s has been found yet. The drugs that had looked promising when tested on animals failed when used on humans at the great expense of money and time. While there are certain similarities, the human brains are not the same as mice or other animals on which the drugs are tested. In a bid to accelerate the development of a cure for Alzheimer’s and other mental diseases such as Parkinson’s, scientists at the John Hopkins University have developed ‘minibrains’ that imitate the functions of a human brain.

How Minibrains Can Help in Development of Alzheimer’s Disease

The Human Brain
The Human Brain

The minibrains developed by the researchers at John Hopkins consist of clusters of human neurons and other cells that mimic the structure and function of the brain. They are the tiny models of the real human brain that can help scientists in the ongoing research to provide a cure for the brain disorders including Alzheimer’s.

The miniature model of the brain that is about the size of an insect’s eye and could be produced on a large scale. This will make it easier for the researchers to test the effectiveness and safety of the new drugs in a laboratory setting.  The minibrains show evidence of electrical activity that the researchers can measure during clinical trials of the drugs for the Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers could obtain much better information about the effectiveness of the drugs through the minibrains as compared to testing them on rodents. These brains could one day replace the thousands of animals particularly mice that are used in the neurology laboratories.

The team that had developed the minibrains had said that brain cells of people with a particular genetic trait could also be taken to provide a model for examining different neurological diseases.

One thing remains is whether the public will accept the idea of growing ‘human brains’ inside the lab. But the researchers that had developed the minibrains said that there would be less fear of the use of these brains if people understood that the lab-grown miniature brains can never match the functions or structure of the real human brain.

The human brains have billions of cells while the minibrains stop growing after only about 20,000 cells. And these miniature clusters of cells have no way of becoming conscious or making decisions, according to the researchers that developed the minibrains; however, miniaturization is becoming a key factor in the advancement of the sciences and we hope that this will be a breakthrough in medical science that will take the cure for Alzheimer’s to the next level.

The Power of Music and Dementia

The brains of seniors are coming back to life thanks to music. A recent study shows that those suffering from moderate to severe dementia did quite well by singing show tunes from popular movies and musicals such as The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘The Sound of Music’ and ‘ Oklahoma!’ in a group setting. There was also a marked improvement in their remembering skills versus those who only listened during sing-alongs but did not participate.

The study took place in a nursing home over the course of four months. Participants were enrolled in a 50 minute group session that met three times a week. Before the study, participants were given a series of tests which included a 30 question test called the Mini-Mental State Examination test and a drawing test. The participants were divided into those with moderate dementia and those with severe dementia. Half of the participants sang along while the other half were told to only listen. After four months it was seen that those who sang along showed a significant improvement in their cognitive skills compared to those that only listened.

The researchers also used brain scans of the participants as they sang or listened. Singing and speaking showed more activity in the left side of the brain and even listening to show tunes showed more activity in the right side of the brain in the listeners. These dramatic results show how simple it may be to alleviate symptoms in those suffering from dementia, a disease which has no long term cure.

Similar musical activities involving dementia and Alzheimer’s patients were done in the UK last year. The Manchester Camerata orchestra’s Music in Mind (MIM) projects involved 7,200 people in nursing homes and community projects. At one nursing home in Manchester, an activity coordinator reported seeing a mute female resident with advanced Alzheimer’s sing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot at top volume, knowing every lyric to the song. Other mute patients that were part of MIM projects now communicate with staff and show more confidence and increased activity levels as well as better cooperation with their caretakers.

The impact of music on dementia patients is bringing more awareness to academics. Two universities in the UK are now backing a research student in creating the world’s first “in the moment” multi sensory assessment tool to evaluate the impact of music on those suffering from dementia. Currently about 4.7 million patients suffer from a form of dementia. Those numbers are expected to triple by 2050. There continues to be more proof that music not only helps recall lyrics in those with dementia, but it also helps improve recalling past memories. The link between music and memory demonstrates music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering with dementia. The low cost and ease of access to musical therapy could be the safer, cheaper and more successful alternative to prescription drugs in easing the effects of dementia on its sufferers in the future.

Psychological Care of Aging People

Taking Care of the ElderlyWith aging, elderly people require a lot more attention and care. One of the most important areas of care is their psychological well being. It is not uncommon for senior citizens to be depressed, having mood disorders, feeling lonely or having other psychological problems. Additionally, they may be suffering from dementia. All these issues adversely affect their physical health. The whole process of mental and physical health deterioration ruins their healthy aging cycle, leaving them sad and unhappy. Things can me made much better for aging people by proper and attentive psychological care. Here is how we can go about it:

Understanding the Process of Aging

The process of aging is not easy. From complete independence, the person loses a lot of personal dependence and strength, and becomes reliant on others; sometimes even the most basic needs. The body does not work as fast as it used to, the senses depreciate, and the brain becomes weak. It is very difficult for the elderly to come to terms with all these changes, during which many are exposed to psychological issues. The ones taking care of aging people need to understand the process of aging. This will help them to look at their concerns and behavior from a much better and understandable perspective.

Be Considerate

The challenges that aging brings forth require a lot of patience from the care taker’s side. While taking care of an elderly, be considerate of their needs and the changes that they are going through. They would be going through decline in their sensory abilities, so keep that in mind while communicating with them and attending to them. Speak a bit louder, but politely. Hand them things carefully. Help them with eating, drinking and dressing if they need assistance with that.

Do Not Imply Yourself

They have lived a life on their own, and having to be told what to do may not be taken so well in aging. Leave some authoritative space for the elderly to make choices and decisions. Let them feel that they are still in power, they can decide. This will help them retain dignity and self respect and take aging process positively. Do not try to impose your decisions on them; instead ask them in a manner that they automatically make the right call.

Make Them Feel Included

The main reason why people are prone to psychological problems like depression, mood disorders, hallucinations, etc., is because they don’t feel included in their social surroundings. They are often ignored in conversations even if they were present in the same room. This leads to a lot of self doubt and speculation. They feel lonely and unwanted. So make them feel a part of family. Include them in conversations and seek their opinion just like you normally would ask any other person. Don’t discredit their input.

Aging is a challenging course. But with help from caretakers, it can be made easy for the people who are going through the process. It only requires consideration and empathy.

Caring For a Person with Dementia

Dementia PatientCaring for people suffering from dementia, a broad term for a variety of mental health conditions that include loss of memory, impaired reasoning, personality changes and cognitive impairment. Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia can be challenging and difficult both for caregivers and patient’s families. The inability of people suffering from any form of dementia to remember things, to communicate effectively with others and to take care of themselves, as well as their mood swings can be disconcerting. However, if such people are not taken care of, they may get injured, harm themselves or become depressed due to the feelings of loneliness.  To help caregivers and families assist senior citizens who suffer from dementia, we have listed down some ways to help them cope.

Ensure effective communication

People suffering from dementia often find it hard to effectively communicate with other people due an array of reasons. This may be due to the inability to find suitable words, speak fluently, to recognize and remember a person, to understand what the other person is saying, and the inability to read and write. They may also repeat sentences or stories several times. Following are some tips to overcome these communication barriers:

  • Get the person’s attention by limiting as many distractions as possible
  • Always introduce yourself first and address the person by his/her name
  • Communicate slowly in simple language using short sentences
  • Be patient if they do not understand you and slowly repeat your message or question
  • Give them time to process and understand your words
  • Do not get agitated and/or raise your voice
  • Listen carefully to them and try to understand what they are saying
  • Try not to argue with them or force them for anything. Instead, try to convince them by using compassionate behavior.   

Take care of their diet

While dementia affects a person’s memory, people who are losing their memory cannot take care of their diet and nutrition needs. Therefore, the family, friends and/or caregivers of such people need to make sure they are taking regular healthy meals, since the lack of nutrition can lead to several other health problems. To ensure this, provide them with multiple small meals throughout the day, opt for finger food if they have difficulty in handling the food, eat with them so that they do not feel alone and can also see and copy you.   

Monitoring their Medicine

Dementia patients many times will forget to take their meds. It is imperative that you make sure that your caretaker or other guardian is aware and prepared to assist the patient in taking their prescription medicine at the appropriate time.

Dealing with aggressiveness and troubling behaviors

The behavioral and personality changes that come with dementia are most difficult to handle. Patients can have sudden outbursts and get really aggressive at times, which makes it really difficult for the family and caregivers to handle them.   To deal with such issues, the foremost step should be to find out their causes and triggers and try to avoid such situations as much as possible. Consult the patient’s doctor in case of fierce behavior or reactions. Also, make sure nothing is within the patient’s access where they can use to harm themselves or others in case of a sudden anger attack.

Following the above-mentioned suggestions may help you be able to take care of dementia patients easier, but it is also highly suggested that you stay in touch with a doctor or other medical professional to confirm what you are doing with this particular person is the correct action to take.