Healthy Choices, Healthy Brains



By Barbara Goll, Community Education Liaison and Nutritionist

For most of us, Alzheimer’s disease is not a topic we like to think about or discuss. We fear the word and diagnosis when we hear it. This doesn’t have to be our perception of the illness. June is Alzheimer’s disease and Brain Awareness Month. It’s perfect time to better understand how eating for a healthy life impacts brain health. Eating for your brain will help you achieve peak performance in every part of your life.

Most individuals worry they have Alzheimer’s disease the moment they notice problems with their memory. Like any disease, cognitive impairment develops over years, with lifestyle choices directly impacting our brain. Our brain becomes a product of what we eat, how we move and manage stress, our quality of sleep, social connections and how we challenge our memory.

According to 2020 statistics, eight million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease. One in ten people age 65 and over have Alzheimer’s disease, and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. There is currently no cure for this progressive disease, and medications approved by the FDA do not slow down the disease but only offer some temporary help with symptoms.

Scientists believe lifestyle changes and nutritional therapy offer the best hope to decrease the risk for Alzheimer’s and many other chronic diseases. Lifestyle changes, known as functional medicine, delve into the root causes of health problems instead of offering prescriptions to mask the systems.

The brain is home to some of the hungriest cells in our body and uses approximately 20 percent (420) of the calories we consume daily. One reason we are both undernourished and overfed is our consumption of the wrong foods for fuel. As Americans, our standard diet puts us in a constant state of inflammation leading to cell dysfunction, destruction, and ultimately disease.

The good news is you can reverse this course at any age and with any diagnosis to sharpen brain function and avoid memory loss. Key to the change is the consumption of nutrient-dense food.

These foods include:

  • Deep green leafy vegetables – at least 1 cup/day
  • Rainbow colored vegetables – at least 3 cups per day
  • Seafood – (2) 5 ounce servings/week (wild caught, cold water)
  • Healthy oils – extra virgin olive, avocado and nut oils (first cold pressing on label)
  • Nuts – 1 to 2 ounces daily (peanuts not included)
  • Avocados – ½ per day
  • Beans – ½ cup per day (black, navy, pinto, kidney, cannellini)
  • Berries – ½ to 1 cup per day (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries)
  • Dark chocolate/cocoa powder – at least 70% cocoa on label, 1 ounce or 2 Tbs. per day
  • Herbs and spices – fresh or dried
  • Red wine – (1-2) 5-ounce glasses per day

It is important to note the brain damaging foods you should avoid.

These foods include:

  • Saturated fats
  • Trans fat
  • Sugar and refined carbohydrates
  • Processed foods

Bon appétit!


Barbara Goll, Community Liaison Educator and Nutritionist for Homeland at Home, offers group presentation on brain nutrition as well as many other topics on aging well, end of life decisions, as well as providing a broad overview of our Hospice, HomeHealth and HomeCare services.

To learn more, contact Barbara by emailing or call 717-221-7890.

Cheerleader, Friend and Advocate: Employee Spotlight on Laurie Murry


laurie murry, volunteer coordinator at homeland hospice

Challenging times can bring out the best or worst in people. Some individuals focus on problems and uncontrollable circumstances, while others find opportunities to share their compassion with others.

Laurie Murry, volunteer coordinator for Homeland Hospice, works to find and spread light in the darkest of times. During COVID-19, her empathy for patients, volunteers and staff has been an inspiration when it is needed most.

In her position as volunteer coordinator, Laurie trains and places hospice volunteers according to their interests and in a manner that accommodates their busy schedules. Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Laurie has found creative ways to connect with patients who are unable to see family and friends because of social distancing. Laurie created a card campaign through Volunteer Match, an online program that engages individuals in volunteer projects. Through the campaign, people were asked to create cards and write uplifting messages to hospice patients.

cards to lift homeland patients' spirits“There are good things happening in this world,” Laurie says. “Sending cards to patients is a great way to lift their spirits while also enabling people to take part in a positive activity during a difficult time.”

Within six hours of posting the volunteer opportunity online, Laurie had heard from families as far away as Hawaii, Florida and California. Many people wanted to engage their children in an uplifting project as a way of teaching about the power of the human spirit during adversity.

“When one door closes, Laurie finds a way to open a window,” says Debbie Klinger, RN, director of Homeland Hospice. “Patients might not be able to see visitors, but Laurie has found a way to make them feel important.”

Laurie’s card campaign was so successful, she had to remove the opportunity from Volunteer Match after a few short hours. Based on the outpouring of support, patients will receive cards over the next several weeks.

The impact of COVID-19 has placed significant burdens and worries on the shoulders of the frontline workers at Homeland Hospice. During this time, Laurie partnered with her friends to create morale booster packages with cards and small gifts for nurses and aides. Recipients of the anonymous gifts were overwhelmed by the show of encouragement and appreciation.

To connect with volunteers who are currently unable to help due to safety precautions, Laurie created a video of the hospice team in their masks with signs of support. The video served to remind volunteers they are appreciated and missed.

“Laurie is always looking for ways to make an impact,” says Myra Badorf, assistant director of development for Homeland Hospice. “We’re grateful for the impact she makes on our lives and those of our patients and volunteers.”

For more information about Homeland Hospice and volunteer opportunities, call (717) 221-7890.