Harboring Brain Health for Seniors

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At times we are so focused on our physical health, that the most complex and essential part of our health equation goes overlooked: brain health. Brain health is how we refer to several functions of the mind, including cognitive function (such as learning and remembering), motor function (fine and gross motor movements, as well as balance), and emotional function (interpreting and responding to good or bad feelings). As we age, our brain changes, and thus brain health for seniors may change along with it.

The following tips may significantly help to harbor brain health all the way into our senior years, as noted by the National Institute on Aging:

1. Eat Healthy

A healthy diet makes an impact on more than just the scale. Eating right may help to ward off diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and even memory-related conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

But what’s the healthiest way to eat? It can be hard to decipher with so many diets promoted in our media. Best practice for brain health may just be back to the basics we learned in grade school – whole grains, plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish, and easy on the sugar. Reasonable portion sizes and daily hydration should also be at the top of your healthy diet list.

2. Keep Your Brain Busy

Whatever your interests, another great strategy for harboring brain health as a senior is by participating in a preferred activity. It may come as no surprise that helping others and having hobbies keep people happier in the long run. Even reading about a topic that you love can boost brain power!

Some research shows that learning something new (like a card game or quilting) may positively impact memory skills as we age. However, even if your favorite pastime is something you’ve been doing for years, brain health can be fostered simply by keeping busy. Repeating your skills helps the mind remain adaptable for when and if something in your life changes.

3. Physical Health Helps Brain Health

One easy way to foster your brain health is by staying up to date with all of your physical health check-ups, including blood pressure and cholesterol monitoring, annual physicals with health care providers, and medicine management. It’s important to know the potential effects of your required medications so that you are able to monitor your daily mood and hydration, as well as your abilities to stay balanced (physically and mentally) and sleep well. Did you know that seniors should be getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night?

4. Move Your Body

With proper rest, you can also stay active throughout the day – another key factor in fostering brain health. Regular daily movement through walking, household chores, and other physical forms of exercise assists your body in keeping and gaining strength and balance. Daily exercise is also known to help reduce the risk of heart issues and diabetes.

What about when you’re feeling lethargic? It is common to think that when you’re tired, exercise will only increase your exhaustion – but the truth is actually the opposite! Moving your body every day can help to increase your energy level and even your mood. That’s a win-win.

5. Stay Social

Another mood-booster is time with friends and loved ones. Connecting with the world and people around us keeps your brain busy and may even help to reduce the risk of cognitive impairment as we age. Those who regularly participate with others in conversations, games, and activities have been shown to live longer and more meaningful lives as seniors.

Some ways to connect socially might be:

  • Participate in a walking group
  • Volunteer for a local organization
  • Play weekly games with friends
  • Join a group of others with the same hobby
  • Plan coffee or lunch with family and loved ones

6. Stress Less

Last but perhaps most important, reducing stress is a key component in harboring brain health, especially over time. Long-term stress can change your brain and may even affect memory, which we want to nurture as we age.

Everyone de-stresses differently, but one of the beauties of a healthy lifestyle is that all of the tips above, like exercise and healthy eating, can also reduce stress. When you feel good physically, you’ll also feel good emotionally – and a positive mood is known to help you stress less!

Other ways to cope with a stressful situation are right at your fingertips: getting outside in nature, writing about your feelings in a journal, or calling and talking with a trusted friend. Relaxation can also be found in breathing exercises and mindfulness strategies. Can you find a moment to incorporate one of these techniques into your morning routine?

 

Learn more about how The Arbors and The Ivy Assisted Living Facilities are helping seniors’ brain health.

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