Our approach to holistic health careJun 25, 2022
At RBI, we’re passionate about making cognitive healthcare both comprehensive and personal. We believe patients receive the best care when their physicians take the time and effort to understand everything about them - not just their health challenges, but who they are as individuals.
That’s why we take a holistic approach to cognitive care. By combining traditional and alternative healing modalities, cutting edge neuroscience, and a people-first approach to wellness, we’re revolutionizing the approach to cognitive healthcare one person at a time.
But what is holistic healthcare really, and how can the RBI approach help you improve your brain and optimize your life?
What is holistic healthcare?
The phrase “holistic healthcare” might conjure up images of alternative medicines and homeopathic remedies that seem at odds with a brain clinic created by a team of experienced medical doctors. But in reality, holistic healthcare describes a multi-faceted approach to wellness that focuses on caring for a person’s comprehensive needs.
While traditional Western medicine focuses only on a person's physical health, a holistic approach to healthcare takes into account their mental, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual health. In doing so, doctors can learn more about the interrelated factors causing health challenges in their patients, and create a more personalized, comprehensive, and effective plan to treat those challenges. Essentially, holistic healthcare is about treating the whole you - the person, rather than the health problem.
Why does RBI take a holistic approach to cognitive care?
We believe one of the key issues with modern healthcare is the way it often falls back on a reductive “one problem - one solution” approach. Medical professionals can become so invested in finding a fix for their patients, they forget to step back and take a look at the entire picture. In effect, patients receive important care, but not the best care for their needs.
The reality is people’s lives - and their health - can rarely be simplified to “one problem - one solution.” Health challenges are most often not a result of one problem, but a series of interrelated factors. It’s only by forming a comprehensive assessment of all these factors that we can hope to address the various challenges and work towards preventing them from recurring down the line.
We know the only thing more frustrating than dealing with cognitive challenges is thinking you’ve overcome those challenges, only to have the same problems resurface again later. By avoiding falling into the single problem-solution trap, we give our patients the tools, resources, and care they need to continuously improve their lives and cognitive health.
Understanding the interrelated factors of cognition
Cognition is the mental processes involved in acquiring and understanding knowledge through our senses and thoughts. When you’re struggling with things like brain fog, memory loss, or concentration problems, you’re likely facing symptoms of cognitive impairment - reasons for which you might seek the help of a cognitive healthcare specialist.
A comprehensive look at cognitive health begins by understanding the key areas in which cognition affects our day-to-day lives. These interrelated areas include:
- Attention & Focus: The ability to filter distractions and concentrate on tasks.
- Memory: The ability to retain new and recall past information.
- Language: The ability to find and understand the right words, and to express yourself effectively with them.
- Processing Speed: The ability to efficiently process and use information.
Executive Function: The ability to organize and plan for the future, and to self-regulate behaviors.
You can learn more about the five key areas of cognition in the video below.
By understanding which of these cognitive domains represent challenges to our patients, we can begin to establish a holistic plan to address those challenges. At RBI, this involves taking patients through six specific areas to improve their overall cognitive health and well-being.
Our six steps to comprehensive cognitive care
When we founded RBI, we knew that taking a holistic approach to cognitive care would be an essential part of our clinic. But even a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach needs guidelines to serve as a starting point.
With nearly 50 years of combined experience, the RBI family was able to generate six key areas of focus: Sleep, Activity, Nutrition, Stress, Purpose, and Connection. These became the core pillars of our cognitive care programs, and the basis for our holistic approach to cognitive care.
Let’s dive into what each of these pillars mean for your cognitive health.
1. Sleep Well
Optimal sleep is one of the single most effective tools for improving overall cognitive health. And if you think about it, that’s probably not a huge surprise to you! You don’t have to be a brain expert to know how you feel and function after a good night’s sleep versus after a restless night.
What sleeping well means at RBI
At RBI, sleeping well isn’t necessarily about asking people to sleep more (although yes, some of us could stand to get a little more sleep). It’s about improving the overall quality of our sleep. We want our patients to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and spend enough time in sleep’s most restful and revitalizing stages. That way, they can unlock the incredible benefits of resting well - and dodge the cognitive setbacks that come from a lack of quality slumber.
Why sleeping well is crucial to cognitive health
Sleep gives our brains the opportunity to recuperate after the day’s activities. Without quality sleep, our neurons become overworked, resulting in a number of cognitive difficulties. In fact, poor sleep can affect pretty much every cognitive domain, leaving us with difficulties concentrating and adapting language, impairing our memory and recall, reducing our mental processing speeds, and derailing our overall executive function. When it comes down to it, better sleep means a better brain!
2. Stay Active
No healthcare regimen is complete without addressing physical activity. While at first it may seem less relevant for cognitive health, our physical well being does play an important role in maintaining a healthy brain.
What staying active means at RBI
The human body was designed to be active. But for many of us, modern society has led to a more sedentary lifestyle. This in turn creates a number of physical and cognitive health challenges. While you don’t need to be marathon-ready to have a healthy brain, getting moving does improve your cognitive health. At RBI, we discuss our patients’ current activity level and exercise habits, and then help them make a plan to scale their activity level to fit both their physical and cognitive health needs.
Why staying active is crucial to cognitive health
Sedentary lifestyles can contribute to overall cognitive decline, but people who increase their daily movement create a lasting positive impact on their cognitive health. Studies have shown that physical activity can improve overall cognition and even learning and memory. Increased physical activity also causes the brain to release more endorphins, which can help reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
3. Eat Well
As the old saying goes, “We are what we eat.” And while diet culture might tell you there are “good” foods and “bad” foods, or that eating healthy is all about calorie-counting, the reality is nutrition is a lot more complicated than that.
What eating well means at RBI
At its most basic, food lets us survive in this world. Our bodies and brains need us to ingest certain compounds so that they can continue to function. Put simply, when we consume the right compounds in the right amounts for our bodies and brains, they function at their best. When those compounds are imbalanced, we perform less-than-optimally. (Food is tasty, sure - but at the end of the day, it’s also just science at work!) At RBI, we work to help patients track and improve their overall nutrition, so they can eat their way onto a path of optimal brain function.
Why eating well is crucial to cognitive health
Nutritional imbalances can contribute to cognitive issues like sluggishness, or even manifest as physical symptoms like headaches. Correcting these imbalances by eating well can help ease or even erase these symptoms. Plus, people who eat well for their bodies can increase their physical fitness and strength. These physical improvements can in turn reflect a person’s mental state, improving their confidence and self-image.
4. Embrace Stress
Stress can come into our lives from anywhere and everywhere - our personal relationships, our work, even the world around us. And while we can’t control everything in our lives, we can control how we respond to it. Learning to effectively embrace, manage, and move past stress is crucial to maintaining good cognitive health.
What embracing stress means at RBI
First things first: “embracing” stress doesn’t mean enjoying stress. It means accepting that stress is a natural (and sometimes unavoidable) part of our lives, and developing healthy ways to deal with it. Because stressful situations can occur for reasons beyond an individual’s control, RBI focuses on helping people develop healthy stress response habits. We can’t promise to eliminate stress completely from your life - no one can! - but we can help you explore better stress management techniques and adapt an antifragility and growth mindset. That way, you’re mentally prepared for whatever life throws your way.
Why embracing stress is crucial to cognitive health
When we’re under heavy stress, our brains feel the burden. We can start to feel anxious and have difficulty concentrating on important tasks. You’re stressed about problem A, which throws off your ability to effectively finish task B. Now task B has become a problem too, and you’re stressed about two things. It’s a negative feedback loop, and it’s easy to lose yourself in the spiral.
But when we can adjust our mindset and better manage how we respond to stress, we can break out of that cycle of anxiety and executive dysfunction. People who learn to change their stress responses report lower levels of anxiety and fewer issues focusing on and completing important tasks.
5. Discover Purpose
When people discuss their health challenges, they often refer to a desire to “get back to the way things were before.” But healing isn’t a time machine — it’s a doorway that leads to a new version of you.
What discovering purpose means at RBI
Cognitive challenges aren’t inescapable or inevitable, but they can fundamentally change a person. When you begin to view these challenges not as things holding you back, but rather as an opportunity for growth, you can truly set yourself on a path of healing. We believe spiritual healing is often left out of modern medicine, missing a crucial piece of overall wellness. That’s why at RBI we encourage our patients to discover the purpose of their cognitive challenges, guiding them in reframing through a lens of self-awareness. This in turn allows them to grow and evolve as individuals.
Why discovering purpose is crucial to cognitive health
When faced with cognitive impairment - or other health challenges - it’s easy to fall into a negative, self-defeating mindset. But asking “Why is this happening to me?” or “Why can’t things be like they were before?” doesn’t support you in overcoming your health challenges. Such questions leave you focused on your past, instead of the present - and more importantly, your future. They prevent you from accepting your whole self, as you are. When you can view the purpose of your cognitive challenge as a means of self-discovery and growth, you live a more peaceful, joyful, and full life.
6. Connect Deeply
Humans are inherently social creatures; we need the support of others to fully thrive in the world. And when struggling with cognitive complications, the one thing we truly want to know is that we’re not alone in our challenges. That there are others out there who care, and understand what we’re going through.
What connecting deeply means at RBI
RBI was founded on the belief of the communal power of healing. Similar to how we take a holistic, multi-pronged approach to cognitive care, we recognize an individual’s healing journey involves more people than just a medical professional and a patient. That’s why we encourage our patients to seek out a community that’s meaningful to them and foster deep connections to others. Whether you’re joining a support group for people who share your specific cognition challenges, a recreational sports team, or a book club, surrounding yourself with others will keep you from having to walk your path alone.
Why connecting deeply is crucial to cognitive health
Connecting with others gives us a feeling of community and improves our overall quality of life. People who regularly take part in group activities have greater senses of belonging and motivation, and even a greater sense of overall happiness. And these feel-good effects carry over into our actions too: studies show people are more productive when they’re happy. Plus, boosting the happiness chemicals in your brain through social interaction can reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Better brain care for the whole you
We believe everyone deserves to live life without feeling like their brain health is holding them back. Cognitive challenges can be scary and stressful, but you’re not alone. The RBI team has spent decades working to understand not just neuroscience, but people - how their cognitive challenges manifest, what they mean for daily life, and how to take steps to make brain health better.
Your cognitive impairment may not be the result of any one problem, and your path to better brain health might have ups and downs. But with our holistic approach to cognitive care, we’ll make sure to treat the whole you: the person, not just the health problem.
Ready to boost your brain?
If you want to give the holistic approach to improving your brain health a try - without ever having to visit a cognitive health specialist - check out My RBI Academy.
We’ll send you tips and tricks for improving your cognitive health each month, all backed by our years of medical expertise and grounded in our holistic six pillar approach.