Why Brain Boosting Exercise Really Works!

Brain-boosting exercises have become popular lately, particularly among older adults hoping to prevent age-related memory loss.

That’s why we did some digging to see which, if any, cognitive training interventions actually work.

What are Brain-Boosting Exercises?

Brain-boosting exercises can take many forms. From smartphone apps and computer games to learning a new skill, basically any new experience that ties your physical senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste – to an emotional response can stimulate the connections between different areas of your brain causing nerve cells to produce more nutrients. These experiences make nerve cells stronger, which plays a vital part in resisting the effects of aging.

If you’re an older adult concerned about cognitive decline, senior living communities in Florida are renowned for keeping active seniors engaged in activities that stimulate the mind and body, including neurobic exercises designed to improve memory.

The Science Behind Brain Exercise

There are literally hundreds of brain-boosting activities claiming significant results. In fact, scientists did a study to see if any programs on the market have any real cognitive benefits. The findings, published in Neuropsychology Review, showed several have potential to enhance brain health! In particular, when exercises are focused on improving the brain’s processing speed, they can result in healthier brain aging.

Your brain is the ultimate problem solver. As your mind works to put the pieces together, it goes through neuroplastic changes. The brain actually changes as it figures things out, and new neuropathways are formed. The new neuropathways help you process information beyond what the original exercise focused on, simultaneously increasing function in more than one area of your brain.

Brain-Boosting Exercises That Really Work

We could all benefit from a sharper, more accurate memory, and brain-boosting exercises that generate neuroplastic changes are the best type to see the results you want.

Digital applications like BrainHQ and Cognifit focus on improving the brain’s processing speed, which is why, scientists explain, they are so effective.

If digital exercise isn’t your cup of tea, there are other more organic ways to exercise your brain and form new neuropathways.

Learn a new skill

Doing the same activities over and over won’t stimulate your brain. If you’ve always wanted to try a new hobby, go for it. The possibilities are endless: from learning a new instrument to learning a new language, it’s never too late to learn a new skill.

Put pen to paper

Some of the best brain exercises are those that force you to make mind-to-hand connections such as crossword puzzles and word search games. If you’re looking for some, you’ll find the Brain Awareness Week website has several to choose from, including this free puzzle packet!

Explore new places

From airboat tours in the Everglades National Park to learning about the cosmos at the Kennedy Space Center to sampling peach wine, there are so many activities in Florida that you won’t have to look hard to find your next adventure.

Draw a map

Can you draw a map of your city from memory? Try it out. Be specific and draw the signs, street lights, traffic lights, and landmarks along the way. Once your map is complete, get out and see how you did. Tapping into these little details will boost brain health.

Exercise your body

Numerous studies show that the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex (the parts of the brain that control memory and thinking) have greater volume in people who exercise. Commit to a brisk, hour-long walk twice a week, for example, to support brain health.

Eat well

Eating a well-balanced diet is essential for all aspects of health, and our brains thrive when we eat healthy food.

So which ones work the best? The latest science points to activities that help form new neuropathways in the brain. Virtually any activity that challenges the brain to rewire will have a positive effect.


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For more information on Sonata’s senior living communities, call a community near you today to schedule a visit →

5 Tips on Moving your Loved One to a Senior Living Community in Florida

There’s no place like home, right? For many seniors, this is absolutely the case.

Even when you know — and they know themselves — that the time has come to move to senior living. But that doesn’t make it any easier to leave.


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Poor Sleep and Dementia: 7 Ways You Can Help

Trouble with sleeping is one of the more challenging aspects of many types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, both for your diagnosed loved one and for you as their caregiver. If they’re not sleeping well, neither are you.

Not only can lack of sleep worsen the mood and behavior of someone with dementia, but it can take a toll on those around them as well. Your loved one may wake up frequently, wander or yell out in the middle of the night — and these restless nights can lead them to nap even more during the day, contributing to the cycle.

What can you do to help them (and you) get a more restful night’s sleep?

1 – Increase natural light exposure

Daylight helps regulate our biological clock, or circadian rhythm, so exposure to sunlight can help your loved one feel more awake during the day and prepared for bed at night. Keep blinds open and lights on throughout the day, and let them enjoy time outside as much as possible.

2 – Limit caffeine

Stimulants like caffeine don’t do our bodies any favors when it comes to relaxing and falling asleep. Reduce or eliminate coffee and tea consumption, especially in the afternoon, and stick to water and juices.

3 – Encourage light exercise

Regular daytime activity can help people with dementia sleep better at night. According to the Cleveland Clinic, water exercise is a great option since it is easier on joints and requires less balance. Some light exercise ideas include:

      • Walking
      • Swimming
      • Water aerobics
      • Gardening
      • Tai Chi
      • Yoga

To encourage winding down in the evening, your loved one should not exercise later than four hours before bedtime.

4 – Get on a schedule

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s may not be able to learn new behaviors, but they can recognize routines, according to Serenades by Sonata, a purpose-built memory care community in Florida.

As much as possible, try to maintain a regular wake time and bedtime, and keep a consistent meal schedule. Routines can also reinforce memories and behaviors, so stick to routines they had before the dementia.

Remember: While a schedule may be helpful, it’s not a guarantee. Something may work today, but it may not work tomorrow, so it’s important to be realistic and not set yourself up for disappointment.

That said, increased napping is a natural part of aging. While you may struggle to keep your loved one awake all day so that they’ll sleep better at night, they may eventually not understand why you want them to do that.

As their dementia progresses, they may fall asleep anytime and anywhere — and allowing them to get some sleep when they can is better than forcing them to stay awake for the sake of a schedule.

5 – Create a bedroom environment that promotes sleep

Whether it’s meal time or bedtime, people with dementia benefit from a relaxing environment free of distractions.

Take a look around their bedroom and ask:

      • Is the room a comfortable temperature?
      • Is it dark enough at night? Are blackout curtains needed?
      • Are there distracting noises such as a squeaky fan, clunky air conditioner or loud clock?

Your loved one may benefit from a soothing object like a weighted blanket, particular pillow or soft toy to cuddle. Diffusing essential oils such as lavender may also create a sleep-inducing environment.

When it’s time to wind down for bed, avoid stressful, exciting and/or frustrating activities such as watching TV, working puzzles or even reading.

While these bedtime strategies may not work all the time or for everyone, they are worth considering.

6 – Supplements and medication

Low doses of a melatonin supplement can help promote sleep and better regulate your loved one’s sleep cycle. Melatonin is generally safe to take daily, but always check with a doctor before introducing a supplement.

Depending on the progression of the Alzheimer’s and severity of the sleep disturbances, medication may be a helpful solution. Don’t be afraid of this option. Medication may not always work, but consider consulting a geriatrician to see if it’s a right fit.

7 – Self-care: The care you forget to give

Perhaps the most important aspect of being an effective caregiver is remembering to care for yourself. As Alzheimer’s progresses, many caregivers begin to experience more health-related issues of their own due to lack of sleep and neglecting self-care.

It’s critical to have a support system, especially in the early stages of your loved one’s dementia. It’s hard to predict what behavior changes are ahead — some people with advanced Alzheimer’s can be awake for up to 72 hours before crashing and sleeping for days. You can’t manage that alone.

Plus, your loved one may not react well to a “stranger” visiting as their dementia progresses. Even if it’s a family member or old friend, they may not recognize them, which could trigger agitation or confusion. That’s all the more reason to establish a support system and introduce helpers earlier in the process.

National Sleep Awareness Week

National Sleep Awareness Week is March 3 – 10. This year, consider a professional care partner who can provide you with a break so that you can better care for yourself and your loved one. Finding an excellent memory care community in Florida is easy, and there’s no shame in seeking specialized help for your parent, partner or family member.

For more information on Sonata’s senior living communities, call a community near you today to schedule a visit →

5 Tips on Moving your Loved One to a Senior Living Community in Florida

There’s no place like home, right? For many seniors, this is absolutely the case.

Even when you know — and they know themselves — that the time has come to move to senior living. But that doesn’t make it any easier to leave.


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Sonata Vero Beach to Include Nationally Acclaimed Memory Care

Expansion Of Our Vero Beach Community To Include Nationally Acclaimed Memory Care

Orlando, FL—March 5, 2019 – Sonata Senior Living, an Orlando-based owner, developer and operator of senior living communities, announces the construction of a new state-of-the-art memory care addition at Sonata Vero Beach. Serenades Memory Care at Sonata Vero Beach is scheduled to open on June 1, 2019.

Serenades Memory Care combines innovative, research-based design features with recent scientific advancements in memory care in order to emphasize the importance of personal choice in quality of life. Along with emphasis on abilities and engagement, Serenades focuses on Teepa Snow’s acclaimed Positive Approach™ to Care, which has attained the highest national certification for the treatment of dementia.

An Innovative Approach To Memory Care

Equally innovative is the layout and architecture of the community itself, featuring a streetscape design and distinctive finishes to assist residents in building confidence and identity. An intimate neighborhood promotes an ease of wayfinding while a maximum of 18 residents provides for increased caregiver oversight. The calming color palette encourages residents to feel at home while minimizing negative behaviors such as the anxiety commonly associated with dementia.

The unique design incorporates features proven to positively affect the treatment of dementia. These include visual cues for wayfinding and full spectrum lighting, which regulates light variations in accordance with natural daylight. Even flooring is designed to direct residents to areas beneficial to them, including dining and living rooms.

Residences feature walk-in showers, grab bars and shower seats for added safety. An open design kitchen and common areas encourage freedom and interaction while helping to control noise and stimulation.

An outdoor courtyard with walking path as well as porches with digital moving landscapes and the soothing sounds of nature create a multi-sensory connection with nature.

Technological enhancements are integrated to safeguard personal security while providing families unimpeded visitation 24/7.  These include industry leading innovations, such as a wireless auto entry device worn like a wristwatch and double-barrier monitored exits with key fob access control.

Each innovation supports Serenade’s person-directed approach to memory care, which builds a fully personalized program around residents’ abilities and incorporates Sonata’s signature programs, Live it UpSM and DuetsSM.

Serenades emphasizes the value of freedom to make daily choices as a fundamental element in memory care. Guided by a lifestyles profile, personalized enrichment activities are designed to help residents achieve higher levels of independence and emotional well-being.

Personalized Care & Individualized Attention

Personalization carries over to the certified dementia care staff. Serenades permanently assigns caregivers to individuals in the interest of promoting familiarity and bonding, while developing a care plan fully reflective of the individual.

“We are excited to be able to quickly follow up our entry last year into Vero Beach with this new memory care capability,” said Shelley Esden, Chief Operating Officer of Sonata Senior Living. “The science behind memory care has been undergoing significant change, and with this addition, we are melding new technology not only into the design, but also into our personalized care approach. We think this is going to be a significant advancement for Vero Beach families in need of memory care.”

About Sonata Senior Living

Sonata Senior Living is a licensed owner, developer and operator of Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care communities located exclusively in Florida. Recognized by Argentum as a Best of the Best Award recipient for memory care programming and design, Sonata Senior Living is committed to enriching the lives of older adults through constant innovation, programming and services that recognize individuality and personal choice. Partners include the Florida Senior Living Association, the Alzheimer’s Association, Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach™ to Care and Argentum.

For more information, visit www.sonataverobeach.com or call Linda Goldstein at 772-918-9731.

For more information on Sonata’s senior living communities, call a community near you today to schedule a visit →

5 Tips on Moving your Loved One to a Senior Living Community in Florida

There’s no place like home, right? For many seniors, this is absolutely the case.

Even when you know — and they know themselves — that the time has come to move to senior living. But that doesn’t make it any easier to leave.


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The Future of Alzheimer’s in Florida

The Future of Alzheimer’s in Florida

Florida is best known for its beautiful beaches, warm climate, theme parks and low cost of living.

Given such an enviable list of advantages, it’s no wonder Florida continues to rank number one for net migration among older adults.

With a full 19 percent of the population over the age of 65, Florida has earned its status as the nation’s top retirement destination. In fact, Florida boasts the highest population percentage of residents age 65 and older in the nation!

Nevertheless, the title does not come without a high price. Florida has far more to worry about than nourishing its 1,350 miles of beautiful coastline and fertilizing its 1,250 golf courses. The future health and wellness of its aging residents are among the state’s chief concerns. More specifically, the spreading impact of Alzheimer’s in Florida.

Despite its year-round sunny disposition, Florida bears the second highest incidence rate of Alzheimer’s disease in the nation, second only to California. And it’s growing at a record pace.

Alzheimer’s Growth in Florida

Of the four million people aged 65+ living in Florida today, it’s estimated that 540,000 are living with Alzheimer’s disease. In the next 10 years, Florida is projected to be home to 720,000 residents with Alzheimer’s disease, and possibly more.

Many studies have attempted to determine the precise prevalence rate of Alzheimer’s, but since many older adults fail to receive a proper diagnosis, nobody knows for certain the true impact of Alzheimer’s disease.

Experts have painted a worrisome picture on the future of Alzheimer’s in Florida:

  • Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia
  • There is no single test for Alzheimer’s disease
  • 7 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease
  • One in 10 Americans aged 65+ have Alzheimer’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the state of Florida
  • 540,000 people aged 65+ are living with Alzheimer’s disease in Florida
  • Alzheimer’s will increase in Florida by an estimated 33% between 2018 and 2025
  • 11% of Florida’s seniors have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease
  • The lifetime cost of care for someone living with dementia is $341,840
  • More women than men have Alzheimer’s disease in Florida
  • Alzheimer’s disease begins decades prior to symptoms
  • By 2050, the costs associated with Alzheimer’s and other dementias will exceed $1 trillion

All of America’s Baby Boomers will be older than age 65 by 2030. This means that in little more than a decade, one in every five people will be retirement age, and many will be affected by Alzheimer’s dementia. And while the plight of Boomer health may not impact other parts of the country with such urgency, for good reason, Florida is prepping early.

The State Of Florida Is Supporting Critical Research

Of the thousands of retirees moving to Florida every year, most will be pleased to learn the state is vested in the health of its future residents to the tune of nearly $27 million dollars to fund its Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative.

That’s not all. The Florida Department of Health awarded $4.8 million in grants for Alzheimer’s disease research at various Florida-based Universities!

In a news release dated Dec. 17, 2018, former Governor Rick Scott said, “Alzheimer’s is a heartbreaking disease and this funding will support research programs across the state in their efforts to find new treatments and preventions that give hope to finding a cure. We are proud to support the many individuals and families who have been affected by Alzheimer’s Disease and look forward to seeing the amazing contributions of Florida’s world-class researchers.”

Dementia-Friendly Florida

Clearly, Florida’s goal to become a “dementia friendly” state is not without just cause. While there remains no cure for Alzheimer’s, continued participation in activities that are meaningful and purposeful is essential to maintaining quality of life among those affected by Alzheimer’s in Florida. Specially designed programs and care interventions that provide focus on a person’s abilities – rather than disabilities – are among the key benefits of living in a specialized memory care community in Florida. Yet many Floridians living with Alzheimer’s will remain in the home for years with a family member who may not have the training necessary to provide proper care.

The Florida State Dept. of Elder Affairs has reacted by expanding the Dementia Care and Cure Initiative. Dementia Caring Communities are popping up all over the state to advocate for the importance of dementia awareness and sensitivity, and to promote better care for Floridians affected by dementia.

Its timing falls on the heels of a new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) rule which went into effect in 2018 to allow for reimbursement for the diagnosis, care planning and coordination of patients with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Floridians of all ages will have no choice but to become more inclusive of those living with all forms of dementia. Shopkeepers, first responders and children playing in the park will benefit by learning how to recognize the symptoms and how best to interact with people affected by the disease in grocery stores, shops, banks, churches, libraries, parks, restaurants and other public settings.

Changes in state policy and provisions will help mitigate the staggering financial impact Alzheimer’s in Florida will make over the next decade, but elected officials and health professionals alike are left with a nagging question. Will it be enough?

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Census Bureau; Florida Department of Elder Affairs; Bureau of Economic and Business Research, University of FL; Alzheimer’s Association; 2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures

For more information on Sonata’s senior living communities, call a community near you today to schedule a visit →

5 Tips on Moving your Loved One to a Senior Living Community in Florida

There’s no place like home, right? For many seniors, this is absolutely the case.

Even when you know — and they know themselves — that the time has come to move to senior living. But that doesn’t make it any easier to leave.


Related Articles

4 Ways to Manage Alzheimer’s and Dementia Symptoms at Home

4 Ways to Manage Alzheimer’s and Dementia Symptoms at Home

If your parent or partner was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you may find yourself in uncharted territory. Perhaps you feel insecure and anxious, unsure of how to manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia at home while ensuring your loved one still enjoys the highest quality of life. Or maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of caring for someone with such unique and specific needs.

Let us help. Here are four tips to help caregivers and care partners feel more empowered to manage their loved one’s Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms, while also making time to take care of themselves.

1. Think Safety First

Perhaps the hardest task for a caregiver or care partner is helping their loved one cope with the behaviors caused by dementias like Alzheimer’s, while still maintaining a sense of independence. When debating whether to allow your loved one to perform a task, ask yourself if there is risk of harm and what you can do to lessen that risk.

For example, if your spouse or parent likes to cook, perhaps you can enjoy a crossword puzzle or book in the kitchen while they prepare their favorite meal. This way you can keep an eye on the stove without being overbearing.

Additional examples include installing door chimes if the person is prone to wandering, putting locks on cabinet doors and keeping the house clear of clutter to prevent slips or falls.

2. Avoid Stressors

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia, along with the medications that treat them, may leave your loved one feeling agitated and anxious. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one of the best ways to help them maintain their quality of life at home is to eliminate or mediate stressful situations.

Accomplishing this can take many shapes or forms, depending on your loved one’s situation. Using the cooking example above, you may encourage your parent or partner to pick out the recipes they enjoy cooking, but offer to help them prepare a grocery list. If their symptoms are more severe, you may develop a system to help them organize their clothes in the order they are put on each morning.

Solutions like these can help them navigate tasks that were once easy but now cause confusion and frustration.

Avoiding busy and unfamiliar locations, like new restaurants or shops, can also lessen the feeling of disorientation, which may lead to wandering and further anxiety.

To further eliminate stress, consider establishing a “help signal” with your loved one. This can be a previously agreed-upon phrase, gesture or exchange that tells you it’s okay to step in and help them recall a name, word or step in a process. This lets them maintain their independence while feeling fully supported and confident.

3. Maintain a Schedule

A daily routine can also help ease Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms like wandering, agitation and memory loss, according to Serenades by Sonata, a specialized memory care community in Florida.

You might want to start the morning making a healthy breakfast together, followed by a personal care routine and then a walk around the block. In the afternoon, you may make time for a visit or call with a friend or family member, followed by a nap and then some craft time or gardening.

If you plan activities around the time your loved one is most likely to wander, it gives them a healthier outlet for their restlessness. Making a routine that includes light exercise and social interactions can also help reduce anxiety and agitation.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Your job as a caregiver and care partner is important, but it can also feel overwhelming. It’s okay to seek help from a Florida Alzheimer’s and/or dementia care community.

When you need a respite, consider entrusting your loved one’s care to a Florida memory care community that celebrates its residents’ individuality and unique needs. You’re not just doing it for your loved one, but for your well-being, too. It’s been proven that person-centered care can dramatically improve the quality of life of those affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s in Florida.

For more information on Sonata’s senior living communities, call a community near you today to schedule a visit →

5 Tips on Moving your Loved One to a Senior Living Community in Florida

There’s no place like home, right? For many seniors, this is absolutely the case.

Even when you know — and they know themselves — that the time has come to move to senior living. But that doesn’t make it any easier to leave.


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