When considering cognitive health, you need to keep the health of your entire body in mind. This is especially true when it comes to your heart. In order to maintain the brain, heart health is essential.
The Heart-Brain Connection
One form of Dementia that a healthy heart can help prevent is called Vascular Dementia. Vascular Dementia is a decline in cognitive skills caused by the reduction of blood flow to the brain which deprives the brain of oxygen and nutrients. The brain uses more oxygen than any other organ in the body. When your cardiovascular system is compromised, it becomes more difficult for the brain to get the oxygen it needs to function properly. Over time, this can damage the brain causing impaired cognitive functioning and can lead to various symptoms of Dementia. According to Dr. Albert Hofman, who is the chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “An estimated one-third of all cases of dementia, including those identified as Alzheimer’s, can be attributed to vascular factors.”
What can we do?
We have the opportunity to curb the causes of Vascular Dementia In the case of our residents at Kemper House Worthington, we can help strengthen their cardiovascular systems to give them the best chance at maintaining and/or improving cognitive functioning. We have a few simple lifestyle changes that can help:
- Regular Physical Activity: Working out can be tough for anyone. But even something as simple as going for a 30 minute walk every day can improve heart health! This will improve blood flow and make sure your brain is getting the nutrients it needs. For our residents with Vascular Dementia, we use a fitness program that is geared to improving cardiovascular health.
- Managing Blood Pressure: High blood pressure puts stress on your heart and circulatory system. By lowering that stress, your body can get oxygen to the brain more efficiently. At Kemper House Worthington, we accomplish this by keeping our residents active with their fitness program and curating meals for our residents that cuts out sodium and and sugar intake.
- Eating Right: Speaking of diet, it’s always important to eat more heart healthy foods and cut out foods that are high in saturated fats and salt. More vegetables and whole grains can improve your heart health. Adding seafood rich in omega-3 has also been linked with increased heart health.
- Reduce your Weight: Every body is different. But carrying more weight than your frame can hold can put stress on your heart and blood vessels. By encouraging regular physical activity and eating right, we promote wellness and care for our residents and our staff.
- Stop Smoking: One of the things to cut out of your life for a healthier heart is to stop smoking. Smoking damages the blood vessels in the body making it harder for the body to transport oxygen rich blood to various parts of the body. Kemper House Worthington is a non-smoking facility and will work tirelessly to make sure that our residents are not put at risk by anyone else.
At Kemper House Worthington, we believe in overusing the word love. We can’t think of a better way to promote that love than taking care of the hearts of our residents. The love that built this facility can only grow when we take care of each other and keep our hearts and minds healthy.