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Singing, Diet May Help Delay Dementia Onset

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Amy Florian, CEO of Corgenius, which educates advisors and broker-dealers on how to serve clients with diminished mental capacity or who have suffered a significant life loss, said “we don’t know the cause” of dementia nor do we have a magic bullet to prevent or reverse the condition. And many of us and our loved ones may fall prey to this devastating condition. 

So if we’ve all got a good chance of acquiring dementia and we don’t know the exact cause of the condition, what about preventing it in the first place?

“There are some research-backed observations that some activities prevent dementia,” Florian said, such as working crossword puzzles and playing other word and name games. Exercise, she said, seems to be “the No. 1” preventive action, especially physical activity that involves “split-second decision-making,” like running on an outdoor trail, where you’re constantly making slight adjustments to the terrain, instead of on a treadmill.

Singing is “brain-protective” as well, most likely since singing and music seems to “exercise” various parts of the brain. She also pointed out that “one of the most lasting memories” among dementia sufferers is music. Most people with dementia have trouble remembering many things in their lives; researchers use the acronym “LIFO” (Last In, First Out) to describe the process where people tend lose their most recent memories first in dementia. However, Florian said people do tend to remember songs and can sing along when prompted, though she was quick to say that when it comes to music’s beneficial effects, “we don’t know the method.” 


She cited some promising studies conducted at Rush University with the “MIND” diet, which researchers found could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 53%. 

The MIND diet includes 10 things to eat — vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries twice a week (blueberries are especially “potent,” according to Martha Clare Morris, one of the developers of the diet), poultry, beans three times a week, fish once a week, olive oil, wine and whole grains — and five to avoid: red meat, butter, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried and fast foods.

— Read When Clients’ Mental Capacity Diminishes: An Advisor’s Role on ThinkAdvisor.


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