We’ve all heard that the mind is a terrible thing to waste, most likely from our parents or a schoolteacher trying to persuade us into good academic standing. As kids, we probably shrugged off the warning. But as we get older and reach our retirement years, maintaining a proactive brain health for seniors can be a challenge and this phrase begins to carry more truth as the risk of memory loss increase.
With Alzheimer’s disease affecting more than 5 million seniors in the U.S. alone, the need for seniors to focus on their brain health has never been greater. Many adults think it’s enough to simply implement the habits that will keep them physically healthy. However, neglecting your cognitive health can be dangerous as you age. Being proactive about your brain health can help you fight against the potential of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Fortunately, taking good care of your brain goes hand-in-hand with taking care of the rest your well-being. In addition to the healthy habits many of us already practice, those that benefit the brain can fit easily into our daily lifestyles.
Like other parts of our bodies, our brain undergoes some degree of deterioration as we age. The effects can range from those ever-frustrating “senior moments” to serious cognitive decline. The good news, though, according to the Alzheimer’s Association® and other senior health organizations, is that maintaining optimum brain health can be accomplished by simply incorporating good habits into your lifestyle.
Here are a few the experts suggest:
Stay Physically Active – Among the numerous benefits of exercise, good brain health also comes from breaking a sweat. Regular cardiovascular activity increases your heart rate and blood flow, which promotes the growth of brain cells.
Adopt a Brain-Healthy Diet – While there is no miracle food that can promise you lasting health, certain foods can reduce your risk of cognitive decline. Eat smart by building a diet low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables. Some experts suggest a Mediterranean diet is best for brain health.
Exercise Your Mind, Too – Do your best to stay mentally stimulated with activities that challenge your intellect beyond your day-to-day thoughts. The more you use your brain, the more you reduce your risk of cognitive decline. Fight boredom and sluggishness by taking up a class at a local community college or online, teaching yourself a new subject or hobby, trying something artistic or doing puzzles that increase your brainpower.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep – When we don’t sleep well, we don’t think well. Getting the right amount of sleep allows your brain the rest it needs to stay healthy. If you have a health condition that keeps you from sleeping well, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, talk to your doctor about taking back control over your sleep schedule.
Stay Socially Involved – Experts say that social activity is a huge benefactor for cognitive health. When we interact with others, we use more of our mental capacity than we do alone. Plus, being around others and feeling like you’re part of a community helps us add meaning to our lives, which improves all aspects of our health. Consider joining a local choir or volunteer, set up regular lunch dates with friends or pick up a part-time job.
Take Care of Your Mental Health – Our mental and emotional health can have a great impact on our cognitive health. Those who suffer from mental illness such as anxiety or depression are often found to have a greater risk of developing dementia later on in life. Even high levels of stress can wreak havoc on your brain, causing you to feel overwhelmed and under the control of your emotions. Find ways to reduce stress in your life, and talk to your doctor if you are concerned about chronic mental illness.
Practice Common Sense – A leading cause of cognitive decline is head or brain injury. Practice good sense by wearing a seatbelt in the car, wearing a helmet when you ride a bike, and giving up dangerous habits like smoking or heavy drinking.
It’s never too early, or too late, to start incorporating healthy habits into your lifestyle. Practicing good brain health shouldn’t wait until you already start to notice memory lapses or cognitive decline. Be proactive about your brain health to reduce your risks of suffering from memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.
A Continuum of Elevated Care
At Tuscan Gardens®, our residents enjoy a lifestyle full of engaging options for living each day to its fullest. Our communities are rich in amenities and services that cater to a healthy senior lifestyle. Best of all, stress is eliminated with our continuum of care, including assisted living support and memory care for those with dementia or other cognitive impairments. Our residents know that they will receive the highest levels of support no matter what the future brings.