Aged Care Q&A

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What is the best supplement to help prevent ageing?
There’s no single nutrient or supplement that prevents ageing. Some nutrients will however improve or delay the ageing process. Mostly these nutrients should come from a healthy balanced diet (see Food As Medicine pages for more info). Having said that, we know that antioxidants play an important role in cellular health and may be responsible for keeping cells alive longer.

Antioxidants are best found in brightly coloured fruit and vegetables
– oranges, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, green leafy vegetables, squash, and carrots are all good examples.

Nutrients that help reduce inflammation, such as omega 3 fatty acids, are found in deep sea fish or fish oil capsules. These acids may also help reduce cellular damage and some of the inflammatory pain often associated with ageing. Vitamin D is important for bone health and calcium absorption and older people who don’t spend much time outdoors may be at risk of deficiency that requires supplementation. If you are on medications, don’t forget to check with your doctor before taking any supplements.

My mother had dementia and now whenever I forget a name, or where I put my keys, I wonder if I am headed for the same demise. Is dementia inherited?
While there are a few known genetic defects that are responsible for the development of early onset Alzheimer’s that may occur in people in their 30’s, 40’s or 50‘s, age is the most significant factor in developing dementia and women are also slightly more likely than men to develop dementia than men. For most people with dementia, the disease occurs over the age of 65 years.

There are several types of dementia with Alzheimer’s being the most common. Vascular dementia is the second most common type and occurs when there is a lack of oxygen carrying blood supply to the brain. Other forms of inherited dementia may also be found in people with Down’s syndrome, Huntington’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. There’s no specific test for dementia, and while there are some genetic tests available they do not always provide a conclusive result. Occasionally forgetting minor tasks is normal and doesn’t necessarily mean you are on the path to dementia, but if you are truly concerned about your risk, speak with your doctor who can provide a referral for genetic counselling and testing.
How can I reduce my risk of developing dementia?
ageingThere is some element of inheritance with dementia, however, many more aspects are involved. Research has also shown environmental and lifestyle factors can plan a big part in a persons dementia risk.

To reduce your dementia risk;

  • eat a healthy diet that helps prevent high blood pressure and heart disease as these potentially lead to vascular dementia and/or stroke.
  • avoid smoking due to the harmful effects on blood vessels. Studies show smokers are almost 50% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than non smokers.
  • limit alcohol consumption, because excessive drinking is linked with a specific form of dementia called Korsakoff’s syndrome.
  • increase your physical exercise to maintain a healthy weight, keep the heart and improve circulation around the body and to the brain.
  • dementiaexercise your mind, play memory games such as cards, crosswords, sudoko or puzzles to keep your brain cells active and the networks firing.

My 89 year old father has become very frail since my mother died 2 years ago. He lives on his own and I don’t think he’s eating properly or managing very well, but he’s reluctant to go into an aged care home. What can I do to help him?
Your dad’s show of independence is great. There’s a number of products and services you could implement to help him stay at home for as long as he can.

  • buy or rent a Walking aid such as a cane or frame, or perhaps a scooter for mobility and independence.
  • Shower chair’s are very helpful, if he’s unsteady on his feet.
  • Rails fitted to help with standing from the toilet/ in the shower and at entrance doors – this can be arranged through local council.
  • Pill boxes for medication management.
  • If there are a number of medications to be taken at different times in a day, speak with your chemist about providing a Webster pack
  • Help from care workers or family members if activities of daily living become difficult
  • Personal medical alert systems for emergencies or falls (eg. Medalert)
  • Meals on wheels
  • Regular social activities to optimize social interactions.

If you still think your dad isn’t coping, it might be time to discuss an Aged Care Assessment with his GP or healthcare provider. Scientific evidence show’s the old saying “use it or lose it’ still applies.v

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