Some forgetfulness, like misplaced glasses or keys, is normal. But at what point does it become something more serious? More than 125 area seniors learned the basics of brain health and how to assess memory function during an educational seminar led by memory expert Dr. Len Lecci, and hosted by The Holmstad, a faith-based, not-for-profit, continuing care retirement community operated by Covenant Retirement Communities.

“Nutrition, exercise, mental stimulation and social opportunities all impact how our brains function,” says Josh Anderson, executive director at The Holmstad. “We’re a community committed to helping seniors enjoy a fulfilling lifestyle. That’s why we feel it’s important to share Dr. Lecci’s message that small changes in diet and physical activity can produce big results in memory care.”

Lecci says a number of conditions and factors can cause memory loss: prescription medications, stroke, or even depression and stress. It’s important to work with a doctor to identify the cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

“People need to treat memory care the same way they’d treat any other health condition: proactively,” Lecci says. He suggests identifying those at risk, beginning with those over 55.  “Age is the number one risk for memory loss.”

Other risk factors include:
• Family history of dementia, type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure/cholesterol.
• History of a stroke or tumor.
• Existing dementia diagnosis.
• Ongoing treatment that may affect a cognitive or behavioral change.

High-risk or not, Lecci suggests a three-fold solution to lowering risk of memory loss:

• Consume a heart and brain healthy diet. Choose foods high in folate/folic acid/B-9 — collard greens, chickpeas, asparagus, strawberries; B-12 — eggs, fish, meat, poultry; iron — spinach, figs, apricots; antioxidants — berries, red wine, dark chocolate, tumeric; and omega-3 — cod liver oil, soy, canola.
• Get daily physical and mental exercise. Regular physical exercise increases neuronal protection and can increase production of new neurons. Regular mental stimulation and socializing are also protective factors.
• Monitor your health and seek early intervention. Communicate with your doctor. It’s important to use the latest assessments to establish a normal memory baseline early on. This way doctors can detect even minor changes in memory function.   

Lecci is a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and director of Clinical Services for MARS Memory-Health Network. He specializes in the assessment of memory and clinical disorders, and over the past eight years has been involved in a project to maximize the early detection of memory problems. Lecci has published extensively in the top journals in psychology and medicine, received grant funding from the National Science Foundation and Alzheimer’s North Carolina and briefed congress.

About The Holmstad
The Holmstad, a faith-based not-for-profit continuing care retirement community, is located at 700 W. Fabyan Parkway, Batavia, Ill. It is administered by Covenant Retirement Communities, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit senior services providers. Covenant Retirement Communities serves 5,000 residents at 15 retirement communities nationwide and is a ministry of the Evangelical Covenant Church.  For more information on The Holmstad, call call 877–226-7310 or visit www.TheHolmstad.org.


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