Seniors and Brain Function: Keeping Your Brain Fit As You Age
Let’s be honest – we all forget things, like where we put the car keys, the name of a movie, or an appointment. These are inconveniences that people of all ages can frequently experience. But what happens when you notice that your aging loved one is becoming more forgetful than normal? Unfortunately, many people mistakenly assume that age-related memory loss and development of subsequent conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia are a normal part of aging. In fact, certain studies have shown that with the right lifestyle choices, seniors can even outperform their younger counterparts in certain memory-related tasks. Having positive lifestyle and diet habits can make a big difference in how our minds age. We can build mental focus, stamina, and perhaps not only prevent memory loss, but enhance our cognitive health. Here are some ways in which seniors can stay sharp.
Getting enough physical exercise has wonderful benefits for both the brain and the body. As the rate of blood flow speeds up throughout the body in response to aerobic activity, the neurons in the brain are stimulated by the increased oxygen levels and forge new connections. Simply going for a brisk walk daily will bring about these benefits to brain function. Other ways to stay physically and mentally healthy are playing an instrument, doing puzzles, writing, and taking a class at a local college or community center.
It has been proven that social interaction prevents depression and helps ease stress. In this way, it also has a wonderful positive benefit for the brain. In May 2012, the journal of Experimental Gerontology published research that supported the thought that staying socially connected can have significant positive, healing impacts on the brain. From simply reading the newspaper to getting out for a walk with friends, feeling connected helps seniors stave off the negative effects of feeling isolated.
Just as important as it is to exercise, our brains do need more rest than in our younger years. One study proved that as we age, our brains do not process newly acquired information as quickly in our sleep, and therefore we need a little more time to do so in order to avoid memory loss. If getting seven or eight hours of sleep at night is difficult, try to change up the sleep routine or see a doctor if you or your aging loved one is struggling with insomnia or anxiety.
Break Free from Routine
Our brains thrive on change. However, as we age, we tend to start getting into a routine, doing the same things in the same order every day. Instead, try doing the unexpected, and give the brain a little challenge. Walk a different route in the morning, sit in a new reading spot, or switch up the order of any activities you notice have become regimented. This will encourage the brain to stay stimulated and sharp.
As we age, we tend to do more worrying than we should. Practice the art of letting it go, and focusing on keeping the mind on things that you or your senior loved one enjoys. Instead of worrying about the kids or grandkids, invite them to spend time doing something that you will all enjoy. Choose activities that will help stimulate the mind and the body to align with healthy, positive goals, thereby reducing the tendency to fall into negative patterns which elicit feelings of isolation, hopelessness, and depression. Keep a journal of activities that have been fun, invigorating, and that have helped make great mental, physical, and social connections.
Daughter for Hire can help you find the right care approach for your loved one to maintain a high quality of life in the face of memory loss to help them improve, and stay at home where they are familiar and comfortable.
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