Keep Your Brain Healthy by Keeping Your Heart Healthy

shutterstock_44733634Many of us fear getting some form of dementia when we get older, such as Alzheimer’s disease. There are steps we can take that will increase the odds that we will maintain a healthy brain as we age. The good news is that the same steps that help keep our hearts healthy can also protect our brains.

When we are young, we take our brains for granted. When we are twenty, misplacing our keys does not trigger a fear that we are developing Alzheimer’s disease. However, as we get older, we start noticing more and more episodes of forgetfulness. We forget people’s names, we forget appointments, and we forget why we walked into a room. Even if we laugh off some of these episodes of forgetfulness, some part of us does start to worry that this is the beginning of some form of dementia. If you want to increase the odds that your brain stays healthy throughout your life, there are lifestyle habits that are associated with better brain function in old age. These consist of fairly simple, no-nonsense tips that involve better nutrition, mental stimulation, social contact, exercise, and stress reduction.

If you want your brain to stay healthy, you don’t have to learn a lot of new habits in addition to what you would do to keep your heart healthy. The lifestyle tips that benefit your brain will also help your heart. There is a good reason for this. The brain is nourished by the blood your heart pumps to all its billions of cells every second. If your heart no longer pumps well, and if the complex network of tiny arteries become clogged by fat deposits, your brain cells will not be able to function well. The free radical molecules that damage the lining of your blood vessels can also damage brain cells.

Here are some lifestyle tips to incorporate that will benefit both your heart and your brain:

  • If you have high blood pressure, work with your doctor to get it into a safer range.
  • Increase your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids by consuming more oil from plant sources such as flax and walnuts, and eat ocean fish such as salmon.
  • Cut down on your use of commercial salad dressings containing a lot of Omega-6 fatty acids which are associated with increased inflammation in the body.
  • Cut down on your intake of foods containing hydrogenated oils and transfats, such as fried foods and margarine.
  • Cut down on your consumption of saturated fats by switching from red meat to poultry and fish, or go completely vegetarian.
  • Increase your consumption of fresh fruits and berries. Berries such as blueberries and strawberries contain antioxidants that can help protect brain cells from suffering free radical damage.
  • Nutritional supplements containing a balanced vitamin B complex as well as the vitamins C and E can be beneficial to the brain as well as the heart.
  • Get your body moving! Go for a long walk every day, or find some other form of regular exercise program.
  • Find ways to reduce stress. Cut back on your obligations if you are doing too much. Simplify your life.
  • Take up some form of meditation that can help you relax and reduce your stress level.
  • Stay involved in life. Spend time with loved ones. Keep learning new things.

By implementing these measures in your life, you will be helping both your heart and your brain to stay healthy.

Christine Fields Joins Charlotte’s Angels

ChristineI am very pleased to announce that Christine Fields has joined the Angel Team as Field Supervisor.  Christine joins Charlotte’s Angels after spending the past seven years with The Independent Living Center where she performed the duties as field supervisor and scheduler for the In-Home Division.  When Christine entered our doors two weeks ago to apply for a position, I knew immediately that God had a plan for the person who we were looking for.  Christine had actually provided care for my mother Charlotte who was a resident at The Arbors at Silver Creek as Program Director.  Her passion for caring for those with Alzheimer’s reflects why I opened Charlotte’s Angels.  We are so honored to have her join our Angel Team.  Christine is a Joplin native married with two children.


Kim Roy Receives Alzheimer’s Association Certification

KimpicHaving the proper tools of education and resources for family and agency caregivers is very important since 70% of all people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia are living at home. I am very pleased to announce that Kim Roy has recently completed the “Train the Trainer” certification course and is now a educator. Everyone who knows Kim see’s her passion for helping those who suffer from dementia. Kim will be passing this training on to her wonderful team of Alzheimer’s Specialty Caregivers here in the Joplin area. In addition to providing further training to our staff, Charlotte’s Angels will be offering family caregiver training to our community as a free service. For more information concerning the family caregiver training please contact our office.

Charlotte’s Angels Receives Music & Memory Certification

Music_Memory_LogoCharlotte’s Angels is pleased to announce that we have received our MUSIC & MEMORY℠ Certification which makes our Agency the only home care agency in the State of Missouri to be certified through Dan Cohen’s MUSIC & MEMORY℠ Program. We have joined a network of over 1000 facilities and agencies across 45 states and 8 countries that promote the MUSIC & MEMORY℠ Therapeutic Program. It is the program’s goal to make personalized therapeutic music a standard of care throughout the health care industry. We have already started working with our dementia clients here in Joplin providing the therapeutic personalized music in the home and are seeing amazing results.

Why It Works
• The brain ties music to memory
• The personalized therapeutic music enables the listener to reconnect, regain social skills and live more fully

Therapeutic Benefits of Personalized Music
• Finally, a way to give pleasure to persons with advanced dementia
• Offers an enjoyable, fulfilling activity for persons in dialysis, on vent or bed-bound
• Increases cooperation and attention, reduces resistance to care—a real boost for staff morale
• Reduces agitation and sundowning
• Enhances engagement and socialization, fostering a calmer social environment
• Provides a valuable tool for the effort to reduce reliance on anti-psychotic medications
• Provides uplifting positive energy to staff members and family caregivers

Music and the Brain

Oliver Sacks on Music, Memory and Emotion

Oliver Sacks, M.D., noted neurologist and best-selling author of Musicophilia, discusses the impact of personalized music on people suffering from Alzheimer’s and severe memory loss.

 The past which is not recoverable in any other way is embedded, as if in amber, in the music, and people can regain a sense of identity. . . — Oliver Sacks

Dan Cohen To Be Guest Speaker At “Alive Inside” Private Viewing

Dan_Cohen_photo_20120705_151231Charlotte’s Angels Music & Memory Program is pleased to announce that Dan Cohen, founder and Executive Director of MUSIC & MEMORY℠, will be our guest speaker for our private viewing of “Alive Inside” Tuesday March 31st 2015. Dan is the social worker who was followed in this documentary directed by Michael Rossato-Bennett.

Seating is limited for this private viewing. Please RSVP through our Facebook event page or by emailing our office at event rsvp.

“Alive Inside” Private Screening

Charlotte’s Angels Music & Memory Program and The Charlotte Lowry Foundation are sponsoring a private viewing of “Alive Inside”, a documentary film about music and memory, on Tuesday, March 31st at 6:00pm.  The film will be shown at College Heights Christian Church inside the small chapel.


A Meet and Greet reception will be held in the lobby from 6:00 to 6:30 with the film to follow.  Following the film a Q & A session will be held with special guest.

Alive Inside is a joyous cinematic exploration of music’s capacity to reawaken our souls and uncover the deepest parts of our humanity. Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett chronicles the astonishing experiences of individuals around the country who have been revitalized through the simple experience of listening to music. His camera reveals the uniquely human connection we find in music and how its healing power can triumph where prescription medication falls short.

This stirring documentary follows social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music & Memory, as he fights against a broken healthcare system to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it. Rossato-Bennett visits family members who have witnessed the miraculous effects of personalized music on their loved ones, and offers illuminating interviews with experts including renowned neurologist and best-selling author Oliver Sacks (Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain) and musician Bobby McFerrin (“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”).

The documentary won the 2014 Sundance Audience Award as well as other national and international awards and has been featured on NPR and other major news outlets.

The screening is free and open to the public.  Seating is limited so please RSVP:  Facebook Page, 417-627-9322 or email


Living In The Moment

family-pics-108-150x150My mother Charlotte Lowry was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 67. Our family was faced with many challenges as we grasped to understand the disease. What I have learned from my experiences as a family caregiver is that Alzheimer’s patients live in the moment and it is our job as family and friends to give them as many moments as possible.

It was those moments as her memory faded that I learned that we can embrace the disease and find peace within our hearts. I will admit it was very difficult being the daughter of my mother who could no longer remember my name. But it was those moments we shared for what I remember today. Often she and I would just laugh over her telling a story and sometimes it brought tears. I can remember those difficult times of just washing her hair and how angry she would become. By the time her hair was dry she would look at me with a smile and say thank you. It was the simplest things that would bring the biggest smiles to my mother. She would often gaze at the clouds during our walks and tell me how beautiful they were. She would always point out the beautiful things in life that we often take for granted. As the disease progressed and her voice failed, she would give me those looks that only a mother would give a daughter. Those are the moments I remember most.

As time passed and the disease progressed, having those moments seemed to slip away. But I always would sit and talk to her hoping that in some way she could understand. A special moment occurred with my mother during her last few months. I had recently become engaged to my fiancé and I wanted to share the news with her. She sat this night in her chair slumped to one side as I approached her. I sat down next to her as I began to tell her about my engagement. For one moment my mom was there. She turned her head and reached out for my hand looking directly into my eyes with a smile. What seemed to be an eternity lasted only for a few seconds. But for those few seconds my mom shared a moment for a lifetime.

I have learned so much from those moments I shared with my mother. If you are faced with these challenges just remember to cherish every moment, laugh as loud as you can, and it’s okay to cry if you need to. It is for these moments we will always remember.

Alzheimer’s And The Holidays; Five Tips for The Family

Stockphoto1Through my years of working with Alzheimer’s patients, I have learned that proper communication is extremely vital. The disease often inhibits the ability to communicate creating emotions that cause high anxiety. This can escalate when they are reminded of what they don’t remember or when they don’t answer questions appropriately. This is why our reactions and guidance to help them not feel the anxiety of answering questions “wrongly” is so important. Here are five helpful tips to share with your family during this holiday season that I have found to be effective and beneficial:

        1. It is always best to address your loved one at eye level. If they are sitting or in a wheel chair, kneel down beside them or sit next to them. Having eye level contact will help the communication process.
        2. Ask simple questions that can be answered with a few words or less. Frustration and agitation can easily develop when your loved one struggles to find the words to express.
        3. Try not to ask “Do you remember” questions. It is likely that they will not remember. The stress and anxiety of trying to figure out how they should answer can set the mood for the rest of the conversation and visit.
        4. If you ask them a question and you can tell they don’t know the answer, it often helps to say something like….. “yeah, I wasn’t sure either” or “that was so long ago” and then redirect the conversation toward a new subject. Redirecting will often diffuse the frustration for not being able to remember.
        5. Avoid correcting their responses. If they say “I just returned from church” and it’s Tuesday afternoon, it’s okay to go along with what they are expressing. Correcting a loved one will often lead to frustration.

Congratulations to Kim Roy, One Year Annaversery!

KimpicWe are so fortunate to have Kim Roy on the Angel Team. She has marked her first Angel year with us. Kim’s passion for her clients and especially for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia makes the Angel Team very special. Many providers say they “specialize” in Alzheimer’s care which sounds great, but when Kim comes into your home to assist the family with training and the care plan there is no comparison. Families continually praise her for her commitment and compassion. Thank you again for making the Angel Team so special.