Researcher discusses brain health and warding off dementia
Friday, June 28, 2019
Source: Eagle News Online
In support of National Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month and in recognition of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, a research specialist presented at The Nottingham in Jamesville on June 21, discussing proactive ways to stave off dementia.
Lisa Sonneborn of Clarity Clinical Research spoke to a room of around 35 residents of the retirement community, pinpointing the areas of focus crucial to lowering the risk of developing memory loss.
According to Sonneborn, obtaining restful sleep—and an adequate amount of it—should be a routine practice.
She also recommended keeping one’s naps to a maximum of 30 minutes in length during the day to prevent trouble sleeping later at night.
Sonneborn said sugar or caffeine intake, the use of electronics before bed and inadequate exposure to the sun can also hinder one’s sleep schedule.
“If you’re constantly inside and you’re not seeing any daylight, it can actually throw off your sleep cycle,” she said.
The presentation, hosted by Loretto through the Acti-v8 Your Brain initiative, also covered the importance of socializing.
“When people isolate themselves, the risk of dementia goes up,” Sonneborn, the site director at Clarity Clinical Research in East Syracuse, said.
This heightened risk results from depression and overall stress triggered by isolation.
Physical ailments, such as hearing problems, can also cause a decline in memory due to decreased stimuli to the brain.
Sonneborn also said people should talk to their doctors about finding the right diet, since poor cardiovascular and metabolic health can lead to a decline in mental faculties.
“The body really is a whole system, and if something’s off in one area it’s going to affect another,” Sonneborn said.
She additionally said exercise throughout the week helps to combat dementia, as do acts of intellectual stimulation like reading books and finishing crossword puzzles.
Deterioration in memory capabilities can sometimes occur through normal aging, but a diagnosis depends on the severity and frequency of those changes, according to Sonneborn.
Alzheimer’s Disease, which falls under the umbrella category of dementia, is one such battle of the mind. The most common memory-related disease, Alzheimer’s is one that currently can’t be cured.
“Once someone has Alzheimer’s Disease, it’s really, really tough to know what the next steps are,” Sonneborn said.
Sonneborn said people should participate in clinical trials to impede the progression toward dementia and enter into research programs if diagnosed.
“The changes on your brain are happening 15 to 20 years before you see symptoms,” Sonneborn said. “There are things happening neurologically that people aren’t necessarily aware of.”
Clarity Clinical Research offers free, year-round memory testing at its offices on Kirkville Road.
These roughly hour-long standardized tests provide a sense of where a given person’s memory should be functioning based on their age and education.