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Could dementia be slowed by taking more exercise?
As we are living longer than ever, so the number of people living with dementia is increasing too. Predictions are that cases of dementia will double every 20 years, and that by 2050, there will be more than 130 million people worldwide living with the disease. 

Dementia is a wide-reaching term that describes a number of individual diseases, so complete prevention is very difficult to achieve. However, studies have shown that in many early onset cases, the progression of the disease can be slowed through healthy living strategies, and in particular exercise. 

How can exercise keep the brain healthy? 
A study at the University of Nottingham found that a stress hormone produced by the brain during moderate exercise could protect the brain from the changes caused by dementia diseases. The hormone, called CRF, or corticotrophin-releasing factor, has been shown to keep mental facilities sharp, and do help nerve cells stay alive. 

In people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the researchers found a significantly lower level of CRF. Production of this stress hormone can be stimulated by both physical and mental exercise, and could have a beneficial impact on slowing the progression of the disease, particularly where memory is concerned. 

Numerous other studies have supported these findings, and it is becoming clear that even moderate exercise can boost memory, mental processing speed and can even build the size of the hippocampus, even in previously sedentary adults. Just walking at a moderate pace three times a week could reduce mental decline by up to 10 years in older adults. 

Exercises for older adults 
When we talk about exercise for dementia, it’s not only the body that needs a work out. Exercising both the body and the brain has been shown to tackle the progression of the disease, and to help older adults enjoy better overall wellbeing. 

Physical exercises 
Increasing the heart rate and breathing more deeply is good for all areas of physical wellness. Sending all that fresh blood to the brain can help keep it healthy, as well as boosting levels of the dementia preventing stress hormone, CRF. Here are some ideas for physical activities that can be enjoyed by a range of older people:

• Gardening; either low exertion like weeding or pruning, or more physical like mowing or raking
• Bowls and skittles
• Dance classes, either formal dance or improvised movement; chair dancing is fine too!
• Chair exercises such as turning, marching, bending and raising limbs
• Walking
• Swimming
• Tai chi or yoga Physical exercises should challenge the body, but without causing injury or pain. 

Encouraging old people to do ‘one more’ or to push themselves just a little bit further will maximise the impact of any exercises undertaken. 

Mental exercises 
Keeping your mind active can help slow the effects of dementia by reducing cell damage and supporting the growth of new cells. Nerves will create new pathways between each other, and old connections will be strengthened. Try some of these activities to keep your brain sharp:

• Learn a language
• Do puzzles and crosswords
• Play board games with other people
• Try video games or online memory games
• Read and write
• Play a musical instrument 

There are lots of ways you can keep exercising your brain, and the benefits can be long lasting. Just 10 hours of brain training has been shown to produce results that can last up to 10 years, so make an investment now to reap the rewards later.

Could dementia be slowed by taking more exercise?
As we are living longer than ever, so the number of people living with dementia is increasing too. Predictions are that cases of dementia will double every 20 years, and that by 2050, there will be more than 130 million people worldwide living with the disease. Dementia is a wide-reaching term that describes a number of individual diseases, so complete prevention is very difficult to achieve. However, studies have shown that in many early onset cases, the progression of the disease can be slowed through healthy living strategies, and in particular exercise. How can exercise keep the brain healthy? A study at the University of Nottingham found that a stress hormone produced by the brain during moderate exercise could protect the brain from the changes caused by dementia diseases. The hormone, called CRF, or corticotrophin-releasing factor, has been shown to keep mental facilities sharp, and do help nerve cells stay alive. In people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the researchers found a significantly lower level of CRF. Production of this stress hormone can be stimulated by both physical and mental exercise, and could have a beneficial impact on slowing the progression of the disease, particularly where memory is concerned. Numerous other studies have supported these findings, and it is becoming clear that even moderate exercise can boost memory, mental processing speed and can even build the size of the hippocampus, even in previously sedentary adults. Just walking at a moderate pace three times a week could reduce mental decline by up to 10 years in older adults. Exercises for older adults When we talk about exercise for dementia, it’s not only the body that needs a work out. Exercising both the body and the brain has been shown to tackle the progression of the disease, and to help older adults enjoy better overall wellbeing. Physical exercises Increasing the heart rate and breathing more deeply is good for all areas of physical wellness. Sending all that fresh blood to the brain can help keep it healthy, as well as boosting levels of the dementia preventing stress hormone, CRF. Here are some ideas for physical activities that can be enjoyed by a range of older people:• Gardening; either low exertion like weeding or pruning, or more physical like mowing or raking• Bowls and skittles• Dance classes, either formal dance or improvised movement; chair dancing is fine too!• Chair exercises such as turning, marching, bending and raising limbs• Walking• Swimming• Tai chi or yoga Physical exercises should challenge the body, but without causing injury or pain. Encouraging old people to do ‘one more’ or to push themselves just a little bit further will maximise the impact of any exercises undertaken. Mental exercises Keeping your mind active can help slow the effects of dementia by reducing cell damage and supporting the growth of new cells. Nerves will create new pathways between each other, and old connections will be strengthened. Try some of these activities to keep your brain sharp:• Learn a language• Do puzzles and crosswords• Play board games with other people• Try video games or online memory games• Read and write• Play a musical instrument There are lots of ways you can keep exercising your brain, and the benefits can be long lasting. Just 10 hours of brain training has been shown to produce results that can last up to 10 years, so make an investment now to reap the rewards later.
Fernhill House welcomes artificial intelligence Alzheimer’s study
New research showing artificial intelligence can detect Alzheimer’s brain changes almost a decade before symptoms emerge has been welcomed by the manager of Fernhill House.   

The study, carried out at the University of Bari in Italy, saw researchers develop an algorithm which can discern structural changes in the brain caused by the neurodegenerative disease.   

And while there is currently no cure, an earlier diagnosis means that if taken earlier mitigating drugs could be more effective, enabling sufferers to slow the progression of the disease.   

The news has been greeted as a positive step in the fight to minimise the impact of Alzheimer’s by Peta Mandleberg, manager of Fernhill House which has a vibrant approach to helping people living with this and other forms of dementia.      

“This is another step forward in the quest to improve the lives of elderly people. We have a vibrant and innovative approach to living in later life – with a packed programme of activities and outings and unusual facilities such as an indoor potting shed, a ‘real’ pub, a shop and 1950s and 60s themed games and staff dressed casually in vintage clothes.   

“We also have a beautifully equipped children’s nursery populated with lifelike dolls which residents can ‘adopt’. This doll therapy can be a very powerful way of helping people with dementia manage their condition – with some very touching outcomes.”       

The AI was taught to distinguish between the MRI scans of healthy brains and those containing sticky beta amyloid plaques which are present in Alzheimer’s sufferers. It successfully differentiated between the two sorts of brain with 86 per cent accuracy and could tell the difference between the healthy brains and those with a mild cognitive impairment and who then went on to develop Alzheimer’s within two and a half to nine years with 84 per cent accuracy.   

The research team is now planning to trial the AI system with other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.   


Worcester racegoers net a hat-trick of wins 
Fernhill House residents spent a nail biting day at Worcester Races this month – with three wins adding extra adrenalin to the action packed trip.   

In typical British sporting style, racegoers were equipped with rugs in case the wind swept across the racetrack and shades should the sun dazzle.   

The day out was one of the regular outings on offer at Fernhill House, with a visit to Weston-super-Mare for fish and chips on the seafront, a picnic in the park and a trip to a stately home among recent adventures.   

Residents have also enjoyed racing, shooting and Wimbledon themed events at Fernhill House itself – with the cinema providing visual entertainment while the award winning chef prepares appropriate themed meals in the bistro. 

Residents poised to explore the village in bicycle rickshaw
Fernhill House residents are looking forward to getting out and about in an unusual way - on a bicycle rickshaw!   

The home is running a series of fun fundraising activities to buy the £6,500 vehicle – also known as a trishaw – starting with a sweepstake to predict the winner of this season’s Strictly Come Dancing competition.   

Home manager Peta Mandleberg, whose colleagues came up with the idea, explained: “We’re all about having fun here and living our lives to the full. We often run days out – to the beach, the races, to stately homes – and have drinks, barbecues and musical events.   

“We’ve recently acquired an old fashioned ice cream bicycle and that gave us the idea that it would be fun for the residents to sit in the side car and be cycled around the grounds and the village – rather like Wallace and Gromit but with slightly less Wensleydale.”   

The idea of enabling residents to take to the nearby highways and byways under pedal power was mooted after staff read about a similar scheme launched in progressive Denmark – whose fun and independent approach to retirement living has been a model for Fernhill House.   

That project, Cycling without Age, has now spread to more than 30 other countries where some 1,500 trishaws are in use, some of which have elderly friendly features such as lifts, safety belts and specially designed blankets.  

All money raised will be matched by the home’s owners Majesticare.  

* Fernhill House's ice cream bicycle which inspired the trishaw idea

 

May