HSC Health Center for Older Adults exploring how lifestyle changes can support brain health

By Kathryn Lytton

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Though not completely preventable, there are many lifestyle choices that can impact your likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia, and the team at the HSC Health Center for Older Adults is working to help implement support for patients to make better choices.  

Sarah Ross, DO, MS, CMD, Associate Professor and physician at HSC Health and Roslin Jose, MBBS, MPH, CDP, Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics Project Coordinator, are researching how health coaching can support the implementation of healthy lifestyle changes surrounding the 7-Pillars of Brain Health in the Self-Management Program for Brain Health Study. 

“We are fortunate to have learned there are prevention measures to delay the onset of these cognitive diseases,” said Dr. Ross. “Most people don’t think of it as something within your control, like heart disease prevention.” 

Research has found that nutrition, exercise, social engagement, cognitive activity, sleep, general health, and mindfulness and outlook can promote brain health and cognitive functioning. These principles can be referred to as the 7-Pillars of Brain Health. 

Great news, but what is a patient to do with that information? 

Experts at the HSC Health Center for Older Adults are trying to chart the right course for patients as part of a brain health study. 

Participants of the study are 18 and older with an interest in improving their brain health and have no known dementia or uncontrolled psychiatric illness. 

At the beginning of the study, participants are partnered with a health coach and asked to answer a few questions about their lifestyle and goals. Then, health coaching begins by discussing their results, identifying one of the seven pillars to focus on, and setting a goal related to that focus area. Coaches also work to develop a personalized plan to achieve that goal.  

Over the course of the next three months, participants and coaches meet four times to check in and see how the participant is doing. Meetings are held either virtually or in person. Along with support from coaches, participants have access to the HSC Health Brain Health web page, which includes a collection of educational resources organized into the 7-Pillars of Brain Health. 

As the study expands, there will be a completely digital option for participants. All the assessments and resources will be available within a digital tool and visits with a health coach will be customized to the client. 

The health coach will meet with the client for the creation of to create an initial care plan with goals and will be available to the client during their participation, all within the digital tool. The digital tool will also support the clients in their journey by providing notifications, access to their care plan, and educational resources. 

If you are interested in improving your brain health and participating in this research study or have any questions, please contact Roslin Jose at Roslin.Jose@unthsc.edu or 817-735-2706.

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