The human brain ages in proportion to the body’s aging. While older adults experience bodily pains and an overall slower pace of life starts to become the norm, the brain, too, undergoes changes. By the time an individual turns 65, signs of the brain’s aging process become obvious. Names are gradually forgotten and a wallet somehow ends up in the fridge.
Memory is one critical human element that takes a nose dive as we age. The brain’s hippocampus region is where memory is processed, and as we climb in years, we lose valuable brain cells in this vital area.
Not all elderly individuals experience a decline in their cognitive abilities, however. In the general population, people cross paths with both 80-year-old grandpas who are as sharp as an axe, as well as 65-year-old grouches who forget what keeps them grumpy. Keep the brain alert with a healthy lifestyle and help maintain its keen cognitive abilities:
The number one tip to maintain the brain’s sharpness, or at least to slow down the natural process of losing brain cells, is to exercise. Scientists conclude that three low-impact exercise sessions per week can boost the brain’s ability to grow new brain cells.
Gentle, regular physical activity not only stimulates the production of new brain cells, but weekly sessions also steady the body’s blood glucose levels. Spikes in blood sugar that are often seen in the elderly are caused by the aging body’s inability to regulate blood glucose. As a result, the area in the brain that focuses on memory becomes gradually impaired. Even out the dramatic spikes in blood sugar by maintaining a weekly exercise regimen. Scientists conclude that this can help seniors potentially improve their memory.
Seniors can participate in physical activities, such as aerobic exercises. The advantages of aerobic activity are that workouts can be mild, moderate or intense. If a senior is just starting out an exercise program, the goal of aerobic exercise is to build endurance over a period of time. A 5-minute cardiovascular workout a few days a week can build to 30-minute sessions. Walking, swimming and tennis are moderate forms of enjoyable physical activities in which seniors can engage. Those more physically fit may find satisfaction in a hike or in running.
Eat a Healthy Diet
When older adults exercise, they are bound to work up an appetite. Nourish the body with healthy food habits. Eating nutritious foods is directly linked to optimum brain health.
Foods that researchers conclude reduce seniors’ risk of developing dementia include those found in the Mediterranean diet, such as nuts, poultry, fish, wine and berries. Blueberries are an especially excellent food to help slow mental decline, as studies such as the Nurses’ Health Study have shown. Carrots, mushrooms and green, leafy vegetables all uniquely benefit specific regions of the brain. Another brain healthy food is the antioxidant-rich purple and red cabbage. When eating to maintain the brain’s resiliency, consume a diverse diet.
Engage in Reading
Sitting down with a good book stimulates not only the imagination, but the brain. Exercising the brain with reading makes giant leaps toward slowing the onset of dementia.
Reading, whether it’s a fictional novel or the latest news, gives the brain steady work. The many characters or people in the story, various settings and discussions are factors the brain needs to remember to make sense of the reading material. As a result, new brain paths are forged with each new memory. Short-term memory recall is also enhanced in the process.
Get Adequate Sleep
Older adults might be inclined to sit up all night with a captivating novel. Resist the urge. A well-rested body is key to a healthy mind and its memory. Seniors should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
While sleep patterns change as people age, quality sleep is still important. Inadequate rest puts seniors at a higher risk for diseases of the brain, including dementia and depression.
Listening to music is linked to improved cognitive functions, such as memory. The positive effects of music include not only relaxation, but brain stimulation. Studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients experienced an increase in memory function when listening to classical music.
Studies also conclude that playing a musical instrument improves the brain’s processing speed. Learning a new musical instrument over the course of three months has shown to boost an individual’s memory.
Complete a Puzzle
While listening to the golden oldies or soft, contemporary music, pull out a puzzle. Stimulate the brain with a challenging crossword puzzle or piece together a favorite puzzle. Seniors reduce the risks of memory decline in the process.
Take a Class
No matter what your interest, there’s a class for it. Older adults who participate in ongoing education reap cognitive rewards. Learn a new language or get up to date on technology to keep the brain sharp.
Dementia can slowly encroach into an aging person’s life. Signs a loved one may be experiencing dementia include the onset of short term memory loss, sudden and frequent mood changes, struggling to find the right words and repetition of physical activities. A visit to a physician can diagnose dementia.
Individuals with dementia-related illnesses benefit significantly from in-home senior care. Professional caregivers, like those from Assisting Hands Home Care, who specialize in caring for elderly individuals with dementia, will provide reliable support to your loved one in the comfort of home. Caregivers keep your loved one’s mind alert with engaging conversations, puzzles, games and leisurely walks. Caregivers are trained to handle the various stages of dementia and are skilled to provide compassionate in-home senior care.
The Assisting Hands Home Care team will develop a flexible and customized plan of care for the senior in your life. When your loved one is in need of extra support at home, the dedicated elder home care providers at Assisting Hands Home Care are available to offer compassionate aid.