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What Can Worsen Dementia Symptoms?
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What Can Worsen Dementia Symptoms?

Alzheimer’s disease and all other forms of dementia are progressive brain conditions. They cannot be cured or reversed with any treatment option currently available. However, how quickly the symptoms of dementia progress depends on many factors related to the individual diagnosed, including their environment and lifestyle.

At Town Square in Princeton, NJ, our reminiscence-focused daytime senior enrichment programming is designed to counter the factors that can worsen dementia symptoms. By promoting social and mental activity, physical engagement, and healthy lifestyle habits, we help our members live their best lives. Contact our team to set up a free tour of our center or have your questions answered, or read further to find out more on how to avoid exacerbating cognitive symptoms.

Lack of Cognitive Stimulation

When an individual is not engaging in activities that exercise their memory, focus, and learning abilities, they’re not getting enough mental stimulation. A lack of stimulation can harm anyone’s physical and mental health, but it can be particularly problematic for people with dementia.

However, participating in cognitive stimulation can benefit individuals diagnosed with the early and middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Studies show that stimulating the mind through activities meant to encourage thinking, concentration, and memory in a social setting can improve cognitive functioning in people with dementia even more than currently available medications.

Poor cognitive engagement has two major causes — mental inactivity and social isolation. 

Mental Inactivity

The neurons of the brain, like the muscles, can shrink and lose function without exercise. That’s why activities that build new neural pathways and strengthen existing brain connections are so important. Practices like reading about a new subject, watching and discussing films, or learning to play a musical instrument all help to create new brain connections.

The parts of the brain involved in memory, intelligence, judgment, and behavior are impacted by dementia because of physical damage to the cells involved. Mental inactivity worsens the problem because it results in neurons that are weaker from the start.

Stimulating activities, such as puzzles, board games, watercolor painting, and trying new hobbies can help the brain form new neural connections, which can help to slow the progression of dementia.

At Town Square, one of the goals of our adult day programming is to spark curiosity and help seniors with dementia stay mentally engaged. That’s why our members enjoy varied activities that help get them thinking, such as film appreciation at the Starlite Theater and discussions at our Learning Center.

Social Isolation

Social isolation also leads to a decrease in the regions necessary for thinking and emotional control, increasing the risk of depression and insomnia. Not only that but research also shows that socially isolated older adults have a 27% higher risk of developing dementia.

Fortunately, social engagement can both improve the quality of life for seniors with dementia and slow the progression of symptoms. Talking on the phone with family, playing cards with friends, and simply being around others helps.

Town Square Princeton uses specialized activities to combat social isolation. Whether it’s through reminiscing about road trips at Mike’s Garage or enjoying the nostalgic atmosphere of Rosie’s Diner, we help our members engage in socialization and form new connections as part of our caring community.

Poor Physical Health and Lifestyle Factors

Physical health also plays a role in how quickly dementia progresses. Poor heart health, a sedentary lifestyle, and a poor diet can all contribute to worsening dementia symptoms. Not only that, but these factors can also reduce an individual’s energy levels and overall well-being.

Imagine if you lost the ability to reliably control these things. These mental functions are the building blocks of communication, so it’s clear that lessened ability in these areas can impair speech and comprehension.

Therefore, it’s essential when talking to someone with dementia that you remember these challenges and practice patience in communication. A person with dementia may not be able to consciously change their behavior, so you’re the one who has to adapt.

Cardiovascular Issues

Issues that impact the heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease, also impact brain health. When someone has narrowed arteries or other issues that affect blood flow, the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood. Reduced cerebral blood flow starves the neurons of the energy they need. As a result, over time, neural activity declines.

One of the best ways to improve heart health and support healthy blood flow to the brain is with moderate exercise. And at Town Square Princeton, our members can get moving every day with fun and varied exercise classes at our Health Club.

Sedentary Lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle can impact cognitive function, not just because of poor blood circulation but also because of poor glycemic control. As the brain consumes about 20% of the energy the body requires to sustain itself, when the body can’t regulate glucose properly, cognition is impacted. That’s one reason staying active is one of the best ways to prevent dementia and slow its progression.

At Town Square, we ensure there are always plenty of ways to stay active, like dancing to classic records at Music & Memories and fun and games at our Recreation Center. By providing a wide selection of activities that help older adults stay active, we promote a healthier lifestyle in an inviting and enjoyable way.

Unhealthy Diet

Another major factor in preserving cognitive function is diet. Without nutritious foods, including antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, fiber for heart health, and minerals such as zinc, iron, calcium, and magnesium, the brain doesn’t have what it needs to thrive.

Our senior day care in Princeton makes healthy eating a breeze. Members can enjoy balanced meals and healthful snacks at Rosie’s Diner, helping them get the nutrition they need in a fun and socially engaging environment with peers.

Support Your Loved One’s Brain Health with Town Square

With a wide range of nostalgic and curiosity-igniting activities at our storefronts, Town Square always has something for every member. Our professional, dementia-trained team curates our programming to support all our members as individuals and ensure healthy physical, mental, and social activity. Contact us now to schedule a tour or view our frequently asked questions page for more information.