Help Your Parents Navigate Dementia | How to Prevent Dementia & Why Food Matters with Julie Wendt


hi everyone welcome to a really special
episode of joy and dementia I’m so happy to start my interview
series with my friend Julie Wendt she is a nutritionist and integrative health
coach she is working at the George Washington Center for Integrative
Medicine and I want to tell you I met her actually at a meeting that I went to
and her tips were so helpful that I thought it would be really great to
share them with you all and she’ll also talk about how to realistically apply
these to are really busy lives as care givers so Julie welcome to joy and
dementia thanks Laura so happy to be here I’m excited to
really get the words out and to reach more people and see if we can you know
support and help and reduce some of the burden yeah yeah and I understand you
also do some nutrition counseling as well which is great I think we all need
some help with that right because we’ll all have ideas especially for the new
year and our resolutions that we want to eat better but we just don’t have time
and so I think sometimes we we do need a counselor if we can’t do it on our own
yeah and that’s really through that work at GW that I became really aware of the
need for people to look at what they’re doing in their younger years you know
the 40s 50s and address things that are off or things that need improving then
in order to set people up for their best retirement and elder years possible so
I even need support around nutrition choices because it’s so easy to fall
into convenient foods that maybe don’t offer as much as we need to feel our
best yeah absolutely and I’m just going to change the view here because I
realized that okay now you can you can see both of our faces at once so can you
tell us a little bit about yourself and your expertise I noticed that you have a
couple of credentials after your name the MS and the CNS and I just want to
mention how important credentials are and it shows that it’s extra education
that people have gone through so if you could just tell us what those stand for
that would be great sure yes and and some of that is particularly confusing
around the topic of nutrition so happy to explain so I have a master’s degree
in integrative health and nutrition and after receiving my masters I went
through a licensing program so I’m licensed to practice nutrition in
Maryland and DC and the licensing credential then I went through was
called the CNS so it’s certified nutrition specialist and that requires a
master’s degree it requires a thousand hours of postgraduate supervised hours
which I thought was a typo when I first read that but no thousand hours it was
it was good it was a lot of learning and then you have to pass the test that is
given so I was able to do all those things and become licensed which is
really important absolutely and thank you so much for explaining that because
I think you know a lot of us just see the letters afterwards and just assume
that you know someone is able to give that advice that they’re giving so I
highly recommend if you’re going to hire people make sure that they have those
credentials and you can certainly Google what those stand for as well so um Julie
can you talk a little bit about what functional medicine is an integrative
health sure so integrative well let’s start
with integrative medicine something that attracts me to this is that it’s really
a matter of allowing the different types of approaches to have their strengths so
it’s it’s not asking you to choose conventional treatment or an herbal
treatment it’s saying okay if you whatever is the best possible approach
is what we can recommend and there’s lots of research that suggests you know
for certain things particularly chronic conditions what we consider functional
medicine can be a better approach than some of the conventional treatments but
I will definitely say that if I break my arm I want to go to a hospital and get
acute care and you know the medicines and all of that that I need an
integrative medicine really allows for both things to happen and what we
started to notice is that there’s definitely the strengths of a
conventional model in terms of identifying acute things that are
happening and addressing those things and then as things get chronic that’s
where it feels like it’s harder for conventional medicine because it’s
sometimes it crosses over body systems and and that’s the framework that really
functional medicine is steeped in is to say okay this person is showing up with
this set of symptoms and they maybe it’s showing up on their skin and maybe
they’ve got digestive issues and maybe they’ve got inflammation in their knee
and instead of going to three different types of doctors you come to a
functional practitioner and they will look to find that root cause that may be
stimulating the symptoms that you’re experiencing so one really common root
causes inflammation and addressing inflammation where it’s showing up in
the body can have a dramatic impact on all sorts of body systems can you give
an example I think we hear a lot about inflammation in this field so can you
just give like a common example of what inflammation how that could show up in
the body for us sure and probably the most common is high cholesterol okay
yeah so looking at cholesterol as in a little different framework cholesterol
is made primarily in the liver most of it’s coming from internal production not
from what you eat and if you’ve got a lot of inflammation in the body the
liver is going to be producing more cholesterol because cholesterol is kind
of like the fire fighter that’s going to put out the fire and so what we want to
do is address the fire and then allow the cholesterol the naturally come down
because there’s not as much need for it in the body so that’s a good example
yeah yeah that makes sense I think we all have these issues as far as you know
crossing different parts of the body in the sense of like any type of medication
we take there’s a lot of side effects and I think that’s definitely the case
you know for my dad with Alzheimer’s in the sense that he takes the amenda and
aricept and aricept it has a side effect of you know causing
people to lose consciousness and so unfortunately you know my family had to
choose between you know is my dad going to be engaged in conversation but
there’s a risk of you know him fainting or losing consciousness
or do we just not give him aricept and then he’s not you know he doesn’t think
but you know he’s not engaged at all so I think that’s a that’s a common
challenge that we all have with you know what would be considered traditional
medicine and so I really like the idea of functional medicine where you’re sort
of pulling you know different strengths of
areas of Medicine and putting them together you know in a in an integrative
way I guess for lack of a better word but you’re also trying to lessen those
side effects – yeah yeah and you know having the ability to draw from both
types just as the best of both worlds and so I shy away from and I think it
makes it easier for people to to get involved from being absolutist about it
we have people on medications we you know the doctor I work with dr. Kogan
prescribes them as needed so it’s not anti but it’s also like you know there
are studies that show exercise for example is just as effective as an
antidepressant for treating symptoms of depression that doesn’t mean nobody
needs an antidepressant it just means we want to make sure that you’re exercising
and we’re supporting that and we’re encouraging it so that maybe you need
less medication or maybe you feel better and you know part of the reason that
that happens is because it also is anti-inflammatory so exercise stimulates anti-inflammatory processes in the body
that helps support your brain so it’s those kinds of things it’s very
complimentary and I think it allows people to feel empowered the best thing
for me if I have a problem is to be able to do something about it I’d like to
know that my efforts towards exercising or eating well or getting enough sleep
are making it easier for me to tackle the problem that I’m having
absolutely and that’s part let’s I mean that’s the main reason why I started
this channel because I think you know we hear everywhere that there unfortunately
isn’t a cure for dementia but in my perspective I think there is still a lot
we can do to you know be happy in our lives even amongst this this diagnosis
for our parents so um speaking of dementia before we get into the good
tips do you have any personal experience with dementia any family members that
had that yeah I had my grandfather on my dad’s side soup like sweet sweet sweet
man he died from Alzheimer’s disease and it
was I was young but it really I could see the transitions you know what we
thought how it started you know everyone was confused and we we were trying to
figure out what was happening um but I just really saw the impact it had on my
dad my grandmother in terms of their ability to care for him and keep him
comfortable and you know it was it made a big impact and it kind of scared me
because well back then this was a long time ago back then there really was like
nothing like they couldn’t even really diagnose Alzheimer’s until autopsy back
in those days and so you know it was just fear is what I took away from that
like there’s you know this idea that there’s nothing you can do and it could
happen and I could end up like that and and it was really hard for me to wrestle
with that because I didn’t I don’t do well with not being able to do something
that’s my compensation I’m like yeah I totally relate to that and I think we
all have that fear you know deep inside us and that’s that’s why I wanted to
bring Julie on the channel because I think that this is something that is not
very talked about in this field or at least it’s not really address it sort of
like we’re all scared and there’s nothing we can do
about it you know and so I wanted to bring Julie on to give us some some tips
for empowerment and so Julie this experience really shaped your career in
going into integrative medicine you think in creating a program for family
members who’s where dementia runs in their family yeah it was definitely a
big part of it I was pretty young when it happened and you know as I went
through and started my own family and I realized that food made a huge
difference my food choices made a huge difference in my family’s lives
I just through the process of pregnancy and kids and it it really started to tie
things back together for me right like it was a revelation like I was working
with a pediatrician and they were like it doesn’t matter what you eat when
you’re breastfeeding that’s not why she’s crying constantly and I was like
okay well I’m gonna try it anyways because that you know I gotta do
something she’s not feeling well and you know I I changed my diet and she stopped
crying and I was like really okay and so it was through this process and then you
know it started to as I learned more and more about it really all makes sense and
I don’t know why exactly my grandfather got Alzheimer’s um I don’t know what his
genetics were I don’t know he was um he was a mechanic I have to assume they
always remember his hands even when they were clean still had you know some of
the grease on them and so I’m thinking yeah he probably had heavy metal
toxicity right so these are things that make sense now that I know more and so I
ended up becoming an integrative nutritionist just through my personal
experience and then as I was practicing I partnered with dr. Kogan who
specializes in geriatrics and so you know I started to see these patients
coming through and I could see how their lifestyle choices you know kind of set
them up in different ways trending and then um I realized that this can be applied in a really
meaningful way earlier in life to really change the conversation that you’re
going to be having with your doctor when you’re 70 so that was really neat and we
went to dr. Bredesen and had a training with the Institute for functional
medicine called recode and we went there and learned about his research around
all the different drivers that he saw through he looked at all the research
and put it all together and said okay I’m gonna do a program that addresses
all of these drivers and sure enough everything could kind of be Bend into
the functional medicine framework so it was really nice to be able to tie it
back into my training my clinical experience my personal experience and
say yeah this makes sense and you know this is cutting-edge it’s it’s well
researched there’s still you know some things that we don’t know like who’s
gonna respond well who isn’t but he’s having a lot of success throughout the
country you know they’ve got this program at Cleveland Clinic so he’s
having success implementing these lifestyle changes with support of
medications and you know the medical side of it is is very intense but the
the lifestyle portion is is exactly what I’ve been knowing personally and
practicing professionally for many years so let’s go into that that’s a good
segue so what are your recommendations for caregivers to improve their brain
health well the lifestyle recommendations can kind
of be bend into five categories or call them pillars of health and the five
include diet so thinking about what your food choices you’re making movements so
we want to think about how we’re moving our body we also think about how we’re
engaged brain and we’re going to look at sleep
sleep is a huge deal we’re going to look at stress management so really powerful
lots of different ways to do this mindfulness meditation you know that
aspect and then social connection is the last one and all of these areas is
really exciting of research in each area is so promising in it and it all works
together in a really nice way to support your body so thinking about your
lifestyle in those categories kind of covers all the bases yeah so can you go
into a little bit more detail as far as diet goes I think a lot of us who have
researched diet I think there’s there’s quite a few you know articles coming out
about what to eat what not to eat you know what what diet would you recommend
what is it Mediterranean is it keto what do you think about like eating the dark
fruits and vegetables like blueberries or spinach and then I know just gonna
throw these all out there and then I’ve read about fish oil and MCT oil so can
you speak to what has been the most effective in this program or is it
unique to each person yes so from a research perspective and from a
preventative perspective everything is very clear in terms of the Mediterranean
diet so it kind of depends on where where your symptoms are and how you’re
feeling it also depends on what you’re currently doing so the Mediterranean
diet can be a big shift for some people just getting eight to ten servings of
fruits and vegetables which is sort of a pillar of the Mediterranean approach can
be hard right so I’d like to kind of start
with that because there is a lot of buzz around the ketogenic diet we use it a
lot it is one of the therapeutic diets for cognitive decline but I don’t know
that we all need to start there like I take people in steps through this
process I am super happy if I can get the eight to ten servings of fruits and
vegetables that’s where I start and that’s super hard so you know once we
get that going a lot of symptoms that people are feeling
can go away and oftentimes it’s not like acute things like but it’s more of the
less lethargy brain fog aches and pains just lack of motivation those are all
the kind of things that we put up with on a daily basis because we think oh you
know I’m over 40 it’s just how it is and I’m here saying no it’s not how it is
these are little conversations your body is having with you that it needs a
little adjustment and tune up in some some portion of your lifestyle so that’s
interesting and I think too you know the fact that we are fatigued it causes a
lot of stress right and we as caregivers already have so much more stress than
the average person so this diet you know maybe just would
you say like maybe just cutting out sugar as much as possible or processed
foods would would cause like a burst of energy and maybe less stress yeah and
that’s kind of my trick because I try and try not to start cutting things out
I like to start adding things in and the trick is is that by the time you eat
eight to ten servings of fruits and vegetables you are there’s no room
you’re not that there’s no cupcake involved like because you’re full right
to tell you not to eat the cupcake you just and what actually starts to happen
is that the cupcake looks less appealing it actually starts to taste less
appealing because your taste buds change so it kind of is a way for us to focus
on and put our intention into what we want rather than putting our intention
into what we’re trying to avoid and a hundred percent agree that there is limited use for added sugar in anyone’s
diet and we live in a culture that has sugar
almost in everything so I mean if you buy salsa at the store you have to check
the label because there’s probably sugar in it which is just bizarre to me
Tomatoes laws you know all of it is they just like suck it in there yeah yeah and
the same thing with like you know chips and crackers those are all processed
food and and I learned all of these things through when I saw Julie talk and
so while I haven’t been eating you know ate fruits or vegetables each day I have
been trying to eat five vegetables a day and I have already noticed that my
energy has been much better I am more motivated you know and taking care of my
own family and managing my job I just feel like things are a lot better and
we’ll get into this but I’m also exercising three times a week so I
really feel like there is some truth in this personally and I’ve also cut out
mostly most of the sugar right so like I have such a sweet tooth like my dad does
and so what I’ve done which is not perfect but I only eat or drink one
sugary sing a day and honestly I notice again my energy is better I don’t crash
I’m not my husband tells me I’m not cranky you know and I think it really
gives us more resilient so if we are you know caregiving for our parents it
really gives us some more patience and understanding which I think I think we
all need so I feel like while sugar and processed foods are convenient if you
just buy you know like I did yesterday if you just buy some nuts or other
things and eat those or a dried fruit you know you can you can waive off that
craving and you can have more energy in the day so I found that like that’s been
very helpful personally yeah and that’s what I experienced and you know that’s
that’s the eutteum this work it’s like there isn’t
a negative side effect the only side effect that you’re going to experience
is improved health in some way shape or form so that to me makes it an easy
thing to get on board with because I don’t have to like weigh the pros and
cons of an intervention that you know I maybe I need but it might kill me in the
process or you know even surgery’s like okay you know these are really hard
decisions yeah in the lifestyle stuff oh it just feels so light it’s hard work
it’s harder than taking a pill but there’s really very little in terms of
downside especially if you’re talking about a moderate diet that is you know
you know tending to have lots of fruits and vegetables and avoid sugars I mean I
can’t know that really anyone would argue that there’s a downside to that
and once you start like taking out sugar like processed sugar or cupcakes or
Donuts or anything from your diet you’ll notice that you love fruit because it
has sugar in it you know alright but it’s a different type it’s
not like it doesn’t taste like sickeningly sweet like soon you know
companies will taste once you start doing this I think what is it Julie for
like a week or something yeah your taste buds start to change so you really need
to only do it for a week to sort of start to notice the difference
which i think is just like incredible that’s not something that a lot of us
learn you know and so I think you talked to like blueberries and spinach are all
very important how about what is the approach on fish oil and MCT oil okay so
fish oil is actually it has some mixed results in the research which can happen
with supplements because it’s not food so my ideal scenario is that somebody is
getting enough the omega-3 fats that you would get from
a high dose fish oil in their food that can be achieved by eating fatty fish a
couple of times a week that can also be supported with the vegetarian sources of
omega-3s from nuts and seeds and things like that so that’s my first line of
defense because I feel like your body knows what to do with that combination a
can of sardines has a thousand milligrams of omega-3 in them and you
can have that as a snack instead of you know a bag of potato chips so those are
all things kind of is my preference so MCT oil is a little bit different it’s
not something that dr. Bredesen talks about a lot one of the theories behind
Alzheimer’s disease is that it is related to an inability to get fuel into
the brain sauce so the MCT oil is really good at promoting the production of
ketone bodies that also happens in your liver or your liver is a very important
thing everyone should be kind to their liver and so the ketone bodies are used
as an alternative fuel source for all the cells in our body particularly brain
cells adding fats but reducing carbs is where you’ll find more of the benefits
so what I mean yeah yeah an example of MCT oil would that be something like
coconut oil so coconut oil has some MCT oil in it and a lot of times you’ll see
that the MCT oil is derived from coconut I think can be used but it’s more of an
advanced intervention in my mind that’s after you kind of got your diet
dialed in and and you’re reducing some of the added sweeteners and things like
that sometimes we read these articles that are bombarding us at MCT oil is
like this miracle saying well it’s not it’s not like if you just add that then
you’re gonna be fine you have to do these other adjustments
it’s part of a larger approach – and you know for some people they don’t have
glucose transport issues it’s not there their
cognitive decline isn’t coming from insulin resistance or dysregulation it’s
coming from heavy-metal toxicity right so so that’s not the best intervention
for them definitely looking at your you know cruciferous vegetables would be an
important thing for so sorting through and making an assessment as what are
your areas that need support and what are the best ways to support it helps I
think sort through all of the information we’re getting about brain
health because it’s true for some people but that’s not true for everyone and
then it can get really confusing and it feel like there’s so many things that
you have to do yeah and I think that that’s why you know it might be good to
have a nutrition counselor if you’re having trouble assessing you know what
is unique to you and so going into I think that’s a great conversation about
diet thanks so much Julie and I was wondering what you mean by movement
because I think a lot of us hear how exercise is important and we talked a
little bit about that before but why the word movement and not just exercise I
like to use movement because people some people have a really intense aversion to
the word exercise in and of itself and I think that movement really captures
something larger right so there’s tons and tons and tons of research that say
exercise meaning a certain amount of intensity or a certain amount of time a
certain amount of times each week are going to produce results in really
there aren’t many research examples that would negate that everyone’s on board
exercising going to the gym going for a run
swimming these things that we think of exercise is critically important to
supporting health and amazing for your brain health right and we also know that
there is research that says that somebody who runs marathons but sits on
a you know in a desk all day long has the same amount of risk factors as
somebody who doesn’t run marathons well as they are spending 99% of their day
sitting right or sleeping and yeah they go out for a run for an hour which is
awesome but their risk factors are being really
driven by the amount of sitting and it’s something that I had a post about that
got a lot of conversation around because they say you know you know sitting is
the new smoking and we all know what Oh smoking is this you know health hazard
well so is sitting sitting and sitting and sitting and sitting which is our
modern lifestyle so that’s what I like to think about movement and get creative
around yes I think exercise is great in the traditional sense and ways that in
your life you can add movement is going to support health as well so working on
a stand-up desk situation adding in you know more walking walk the stairs
instead of the elevator you know these things that we all hear about that’s why
I wanted to to get away from just exercise because I think it’s it’s ways
that we recreative we sit all day all week and then for fun we go and sit in
the movie theater that’s a lot of sitting maybe for fun we would go for a
hike or we could go canoeing or you know any things too like involve more
movement that I wouldn’t call canoeing exercise I mean that would be something
you do for fun and move your body at the same time
so maybe I know we have quite a few primary caregivers watching where they
are taking care of the person with dementia every day maybe going for a
walk with them outside might be good because it’s good for the person with
dementia and Frankie was the caregiver so yeah I think also I think too you
know are regular chores around the house like doing laundry going up and down the
stairs I think you know could qualify too so yeah that’s really interesting
and I think that’s not necessarily the way people think about about movement or
exercise so that’s helpful and so I talked a little bit about like what I’ve
changed in my life since I saw your talk and I think another really interesting
thing was the fasting which I had never heard about can you talk about that a
little bit oh yes so um the fasting is something that has been going on for a
long long long time and has somewhat evolved over the last decade or so to in
to include something we call intermittent fasting and the
intermittent is sort of a signal that we’re not talking about going for 10
days with water only we’re talking about using fasting on a regular basis and
this kind of goes along with the whole approach to lifestyle then I’m promoting
which is let’s do some things on a daily basis that are sustainable and move us
towards our health goals intermittent fasting is one of those things so lots
of powerful research around what happens in your body when you allow time for
your body to work on things other than digestion and that’s basically you know
we’re just saying we’re not going to put food in our body we’re going to settle
that down that whole process down and allow some of the deep cleaning work to
happen so intermittent fasting for dr. Bredesen protocol looks like 12 to 16
hours each day 12 being a really nice place to start
that’s a stretch for some people taking out the post dinner or snacking can be
hard right so and that’s how I work with people I often figure out where are we
starting where do we want to go and let’s like make it manageable in between
there’s an enzyme that’s job primary job is to degrade insulin so we’re always in
this constant flux of producing you know proteins and then breaking them down and
using them somewhere else so when this enzyme is not breaking down insulin it
will then go into the brain and break down amyloid plaque which is really
convenient because that’s part of the pathology that we worry about with
Alzheimer’s disease and not knowing that information for me really helps me
prioritize and make some type of intermittent fasting a
part of my regular day I don’t do well extended time without food but I I have
worked myself into a place where I can do intermittently you know 12 hours
every night 14 hours a couple of days a week and then you know I shoot for 16
but then I know life is life and if I’ve got a presentation I’m not going to do
it fasting so you know I sort of I think it’s a it’s an intervention that’s
effective there’s lots of research to support the research that comes out in
terms of impact on everything from your blood sugar to your cholesterol to your
weight is interesting because it’s it doesn’t include any diet changes
remember people eat the same as they were eating before they just change when
they’re eating and they have some really powerful health benefits which is just
fascinating to me right I want everyone to be getting lots of fruits and veggies
and to think that there’s an intervention where if you’re struggling
with that piece maybe this piece helps you move forward in your health goals
while you’re still sorting through like the details of how to get on a
Mediterranean diet or something like that so could fasting for 16 hours for
example could that be like skipping breakfast or would it just be eating
breakfast later in the day yeah so 16 hours and the interesting thing about
intermittent fasting and this whole relationship with insulin is that the
other thing that is different is that having something like MCT oil in the
morning would still be considered part of the fast because the MCT oil is going
to be fat and it is not going to stimulate insulin in any way shape or
form okay so we’re going to get some energy from that and we’re still going
to be maintaining a low insulin level and allowing you know that deep cleaning
to happen No a lot of times people will somewhat skip
breakfast or make breakfast a MCT oil infused tea or coffee and then have
lunch and have lunch and dinner and then the next day you know some some people
are doing 16 hours every day so they’ve collapsed their eating window into eight
hours but it’s really like eat whatever you want in that eight hours well
hopefully a nice Mediterranean diet you know cupcakes oh yeah so like
differentiating between therapeutic stuff and prevention stuff is important
here um I think from a preventative
standpoint you know a nightly 12-hour with occasional 14 to 16 hours a couple
of times a week is a really nice balance so yeah so I think we hear 12 hours and
were like oh my gosh that’s so long but when I started doing it honestly I think
a lot of us are sort of fasting for 12 hours not realizing it right because
well like forget to eat breakfast or something like that but the way that I
feel like it’s manageable for me is that I try to eat dinner around 7:00 or 8:00
o’clock and then instead of sort of taking that time to digest and then have
a dessert a half an hour or an hour later that I just eat the dessert right
after the dinner you know and then and then I you know go to bed and so like
that’s like a doable thing I think for all of us so you might want to consider
doing that yeah and the other thing that I found helpful when I’m doing my longer
fast a lot of times it’s easier for me to go like with a super early dinner
so say I’ll have something at 5:00 and then I’m running the kids around you
know and then I just go to bed and then it’s
I don’t have to extend it that long into the morning until I’m ready to eat again
so that’s another thing like and that’s the whole whole idea is to kind of make
it work for you and in your lifestyle and some people just naturally don’t get
hungry till 11 o’clock in the morning I am NOT one of those but if you’re one of
those then you know sort of planning the fasting around that makes sense
absolutely yeah so going into a couple of other of the
pillars I know you mentioned like would you say they’d be doing like a brain
exercise or what that would look like as far as you know brain health goes yes so
brain research around brain training and exercise is still kind of getting sorted
through it can look a lot of different ways there some people may have already
seen like luminosity brain HQ there’s several other ones that where you can
sign up for a subscription it’s fairly inexpensive but your target is to spend
ten ten minutes a day doing these computer games that have you thinking in
different ways and using different capacities and through that process we
know that you will get better at doing those games right so but does that
really improve your overall brain health some say yes some say no um a lot of
studies more so on what we think of more traditional brain engagement activities
learning a new card game going and speaking a new language for the first
time an instrument engaging your brain and something you enjoy and something
that maybe is a little bit new and hard but on a pretty consistent basis is
really helpful and we do have research that says that that will help reduce
your chances of cognitive decline yeah and I think it from what I’ve read it
connects to the neuroplasticity so sort of using
neural connections that you haven’t been using for the past few years and
actually I saw that there’s some recent research on dancing and how that
actually integrates a lot of the different areas of the brain people are
recommending that and yeah and I know like my dad for sure hated dancing and
he never danced so there could be some some true some parents
what I would say the beauty of it is is that their dancing is a great Thai Chi
same thing tons and tons of research about the benefits of Tai Chi on
cognition right and it’s similar to dancing because you’re you’re getting
exercise so you’re improving the oxygen flow and reducing inflammation in that
way you’re concentrating right so you’re building the neural pathways you’re
learning patterns and things like that it’s social like so these are activities
that kind of bring in a lot of the pillars that we talked about yeah so
you’re not going to dance by yourself usually right so you’re gonna be in a
community Tai Chi is done in a community there’s lots of other examples going to
a conversational French you know you’re you’re engaging in that way in your
building community and hopefully you’re having fun like you know just the act of
stress relief so it’s sort of simple in some ways because you’re like oh well
dancing is not that unusual like you know what I mean it doesn’t have to be
complicated it needs to be a priority so you know in this world of over scheduled
ness and constant demands if you know it’s important to carve out time for
things and make and figure a way out then hopefully you add enjoyment all at
the same time supporting your health right
yeah and I know that that’s the kind of the same so I’ve had quite a few videos
lately on mindfulness so different ways that since that could be a version of
self-care you know that’s a good stress management techniques I’m noticing that
when I go to my mindfulness classes now I do have that social aspect and we do
the mindful movements and things like that so I think that’s really good and
it’s actually also recommended for for middle age and also elder so I figure
like you know I’m you know I’m in my 30s but it’s good that if I’m getting into
these habits now then it’s going to be easier to not only will I be in better
health now but I’ll also you know it’ll be easier to make that lifestyle change
when I’m older because it won’t be a change it’ll be what I’ve been doing so
exactly yeah and that’s how I’m so excited because I feel like creating an
army of people like you to go out and that’s how we’re going to
change the trajectory of Alzheimer’s disease it’s not waiting for some
miracle drug it’s not trying to put the pieces back together after it’s already
started it’s preventing it from happening in the first place which is we
know a lot about how to take care of ourselves in these different ways they
make sense to us we have research to support them and it’s just like it’s
that’s what really like Jazz’s me up to think that we can reach people like you
and you know a whole bunch of other people that will have a different
conversation because they will have avoided so many things not everything
you know this is not no guarantees but we just know that everything is gonna be
that much better when you feel good and you’re gonna feel good when your body is
getting what it needs through your lifestyle great and I think the last
pillar that we haven’t talked about is sleep so is there a specific number of
hours that you recommend good general guidelines are between 7 and 10 hours
that’s kind of a big window and so it’s going to depend on an individual basis
there are risks associated with less than seven in more than 10 which you
know it’s like Goldilocks principle just keeps showing up in my work all the time
like we want the sweet spot exercise is good we don’t want too much of it we
don’t want to you know so sleep can really change the game on everything
from how your body uses sugar to your chance of weight gain if you’re not
getting enough sleep that’s an extra 10 pounds just
out of the gate right we don’t realize that it changes the way our body works
if we don’t get enough sleep we don’t have anything in our brain to get rid of
the toxins like we do the rest of our body has lymph nodes in the lymph system
the brain doesn’t so what happens when we sleep is when our brain gets cleaned
out because we have a process for that to happen but it’s not going to happen
if you’re awake so you know there’s lots of reasons to why we don’t know all the
nitty gritty of why we we have lots of research to say okay it makes a huge
difference so it’s important to figure out what you need in order to feel your
best and I think starting with eight hours is a good place to start if you
need eight and a half then then get it right or if you don’t need eight you
need seven and a half like but I can tell you for myself like there’s a
threshold if I’m not getting seven and a half I can’t get through the day like
three o’clock comes around and I’m like looking for caffeine and if I get over
seven and a half and don’t even notice it’s fascinating and my mood is
different to what I believe and my resilience level I feel like so I think
this is an example of where like if you’re living with a parent with
dementia it’s going to be really hard for you to get eight hours of sleep so
that’s realistic so I think in the sense where julie is talking about you know
what is easiest for you to start doing right because then at least you are
going to be better off than you are now which is not doing anything right so so
that kind of goes into my next question so like all these tips are really ideal
in theory but you know life feels overwhelming for a caregiver since I’m
taking care of my family and my parents so how do we realistically apply these
recommendations to our busy lives and and make it feel doable I think we
talked a little bit about you know prioritizing picking one that might may
be easiest to do can you speak a little bit more to that yes
it is overwhelming right and it’s like I I really am aware that adding more
things to do is going to add stress so going about this in a way that feels
supportive rather than stressful is really important to me because we all
know that stress is sort of this this thing that contributes to every negative
health um outcome right so managing stress is big I don’t want to add more
stress to people’s lives it’s important to try to make an assessment right so
we’ve talked about a lot of different things within each of those big
categories there are almost endless possibilities in terms of what you might
focus on so carving out a little space for yourself
to sit down and think about what’s working what are you doing now because I
think it’s always important to start from a place of okay actually I’m doing
a pretty good job with the sugar like I’m not eating the sugar but maybe I
could work harder at adding a few more servings of veggies into my day right so
kind of having this conversation with yourself or you know do you find a
nutritionist helps what you through but making kind of a game plan picking one
thing to focus on and even with that one thing Sam’s I say I decide I’m going to
attack this vegetable thing and I’m going to get six servings of vegetables
maybe what I start with is adding one more serving at lunch right so I want to
make it break it down into sort of the smallest possible bite-size piece no pun
intended that feels really doable because it’s really important that you
can execute it want to build an experience within your emotional state
that says that you can be successful at making these changes so the most
important thing is that it’s small enough and that you feel like it’s
actually something that can happen and that you kind of set yourself up for
success so sometimes the in this example maybe it means okay so for the grocery
store list I’m going to just add a thing of mixed greens because I know that I
can just like take a handful put it on a plate add some olive oil and vinegar and
that’s like a serving and that’s my extra serving right so set yourself up
for whatever one change you’re gonna make by thinking about what makes it
hard who do I need to support me it could be you know a grocery delivery
might be the support or it might be your husband or spouse who doesn’t maybe
doesn’t like vegetables but tries to help you know prepare some or you know
who knows what it is so think through those things and start with something
small and you you can build on that without
adding stress to your life about oh my gosh there’s all this other stuff that I
should be doing that I’m not doing so yeah so normal so so basically since I’m
speaking to daughters whose parents have dementia since I am one what we know you
had to sum up this interview to one takeaway point specific to long distance
secondary caregiving daughters what would it be and I know you have some
really great tips like about prioritizing what is the most realistic
acknowledging the obstacles and bringing in support like if you dread doing the
laundry or you dread cooking maybe bringing someone else in to do that and
yes it will cost money but I think it could save money as well so I think that
that tends to be a pretty big issue for you know daughters like myself who have
our own family so is there kind of a tip that you would recommend for you know
being able to stick to your meal plan but also not having to go to the grocery
store for example yeah that’s always a big one and sort of circling back on the
whole idea and the reason I laugh about should is because it’s so present in our
mind but we don’t realize it a lot of times and when you start talking and
brainstorming about ways to implement whatever goal you’ve decided it’s
important to notice when you say oh it’s just salad or I should be able to you
know clean the house those are flags that you’ve created some rules around
something that that don’t really exist and that you can open up to and say okay
well maybe I should be able to do this but I am NOT doing it so what are some
other ways to solve the problem because I want to be realistic and accept that
Shh should or should not it’s not happening right and it’s creating a lot
of stress in my life and so by dealing with that and getting creative you know
you can relieve stress and you can make it easier to take care of yourself go
ahead sorry I just like to point that out that a lot of times we have these
internal conversations that put bound faith boundaries around things that you
can you know with some effort kind of open up and provide more freedom to
really make an assessment of how you can implement some of these changes
absolutely yeah and I think should is a big issue for us as caregivers right
like you should be able to take care of our parents we should be able to take
care of our spouse so I think this is kind of a step in the right direction of
saying instead of I should eat vegetables you know I can add this
spinach to my lunch you know and I wanted to just add a really easy and
sustainable way for me has been like adding a lot of fruits for a lot of
vegetables to a smoothie because honestly it’s not like you have to eat
each one it’s you know it’s in a liquid form for you to drink and if you want to
put you know sweet fruit in there to make a little better I think smoothies
are really big now you can go to the store to make it or to buy it rather but
it’s better to make it with like frozen fruit in the grocery store so that’s
kind of how I found it to be easier um yeah and so I think you have an offer
for our viewers Julie I do so one of the manifestations of my work is a program
called your healthy mind it’s an online format with a group effect that allows
people to sort through some of the stuff we’ve been talking about right so we’ve
got content we’ve got the health coaching support and really within a
community where other people are struggling with the same things and
different things and you know being with other people who are on the same
journey is really powerful so I would like to offer a discount for caregivers
where if we have one a lot of times that will see even like a daughter and a
parent want to go through the program together and so I offer a discount to
allow half off a second subscription to the program and that allows you guys to
all be kind of on the same page and supporting each other and learning all
the information together and it creates a much more sustainable and successful
outcome so I’m excited to offer that we are launching again actually in two days
on Saturday so if anyone is interested I would love to hear from you and you can
find me at WWE you know anything that I can do to help
support I am available for so I hope to hear from some of you I’m really so
honored to have been part of this conversation and so excited that you
personally have implemented some changes and are feeling better that’s so awesome
I love it yeah yeah I think you know I know that the research has been around
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s for these tips but I know like I personally from
what I’m reading I think that there’s a lot of commonalities between
inflammation and stress and I think that regardless of the dementia that your
parent has that you know any of these and for you that you’re afraid that
you’re going to get you know I think any of these tips could be helpful and
that’s just you know that’s my opinion because I can’t speak to what the
research is but honestly again I feel like there’s no downside to starting to
implement some of these tips even if it’s just one regardless of you know the
type of dementia that runs in your family and is this program
accessible to anyone you know outside of the Maryland or DC area Julie like we’re
talking outside of the US as well yeah so I really wanted the online piece so
that we could really start just creating an army of people equipped to you know
implement and spread the word right so when we can normalize having social
gallery gatherings that aren’t just sugar and you know people start bringing
vegetables and dip and stuff like that like that’s really what’s gonna shift
this whole thing so I’m excited to be able to accept people from all over the
place and connect online that’s so awesome thank you so much for for
joining us today thank you for your offer and if you like what you saw here
and really learned a lot from Julie and me I love it if you can subscribe to my
channel right below and um I am the CEO and founder of the friended heart where
I help daughters navigate their parents dementia

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