The COVID-19 pandemic has destabilized the day-to-day routine of everyone in our community, and while it may be new for many people, older adults are all too familiar with the challenge of not having events and activities shape their days. While at first this may seem like a less serious issue, research in chronobiology begs to differ.
Circadian rhythms can influence any part of life from the time someone wakes up to the chances of someone developing Alzheimer’s Disease. Disruptions in circadian rhythms have been shown to disrupt memory consolidation, increase confusion, and reduce lifespan. Additionally, the strength of one’s circadian rhythm is strongly correlated with reduced negative symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The critical question then becomes what can I do to strengthen my circadian rhythm? Research has consistently shown that the two major factors that influence circadian rhythm is light exposure and exercise. Just like a muscle, circadian rhythms can be strengthened through consistency. If someone wakes up at the same time everyday and immediately can use sunlight to signal to the body that it is time to start the day, then that person will strengthen their circadian rhythm. Similarly, exercising at the same time everyday can assist in developing a robust circadian rhythm for older adults.
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It does not only matter whether someone exercises, but also when they exercise. Since the process of developing these custom routines is not entirely straightforward, there are organizations that are looking to be proactive and help older adults find structure during these trying times.
One of these organizations is Briocare. Briocare has developed an ecosystem where caregivers and older adults themselves can promote well-being and connectedness through a simple to use app. This app is connected to an Amazon Echo device for older adults and allows for family members to customize daily routines, reminders, and events through the care app. Shaun Mitra, CEO, Briocare says “Briocare improves the quality of life for seniors by addressing their need for self care, independence and safety”.
Briocare is developing a brain health program to determine the chronotype of your elderly loved one, develop a custom program to help entrain and maintain the circadian rhythm for them. With this program, you will be able to improve sleep quality, reduce anxiety, improve heart health, and maintain independence for your loved one. During these trying times, we must do everything we can to support our elderly loved ones.
Together, we can improve the quality of life for your loved one and allow them to live on their own terms.