Aging is a natural part of life, and we all go through it. As your elders grow older, you might notice that they start forgetting small details; maybe they occasionally misplace their keys or fail to recall the name of a person they recently met. Well, this is because the brain evolves with age just like the bodies do. From remembering special moments to learning new things, brain controls everything that we do. Alzheimer’s or dementia is a neurological disorder that primarily affects the brain health in elders. While it can develop at any age, it is more common in people who are 65 years and older. But don’t get overwhelmed, as seniors can take some simple steps can lower the risk of dementia and improve cognitive function. In this blog, we have focused on Promoting Brain Health in Seniors along with some effective tips to reduce Alzheimer’s Risk.
Alzheimer’s Disease and its Link with Brain Health in Seniors
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disorder that usually affects people in later years of life. It begins as mild memory loss and gets severe as time passes. In this condition, abnormal levels of proteins deposit in the brain which damage the brain cells and negatively impact mental function.
Dementia affects the part of elders’ brain that controls memory, thinking, and behaviour. This may lead to confusion and behavioural changes. Additionally, seniors may also experience “brain shrinkage” in dementia which results in progressive loss of brain tissue and cognitive decline.
Risk Factors and Common Symptoms of Alzheimer’s in older adults
While the exact cause of Alzheimer’s is unknown, age is a significant risk factor for developing this condition. In fact, the chances of Alzheimer’s disease double every 5 years once the age of 65 is crossed.
But it is important to understand that memory loss is not a normal part of aging and nor does everyone get affected by it. Other medical conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure can also contribute to the development of dementia. Some of the major symptoms of Alzheimer’s in older adults are
- Poor judgement
- Social withdrawal
- Unexplained mood swings
Note- It’s important to note that while these symptoms are common in Alzheimer’, they can also result from other conditions. If you notice any of the above symptoms in your elders, consult with your doctor immediately.
Lifestyle Changes to Reduce the Risk of Dementia and Improve Brain Health in Seniors
Research suggests that certain lifestyle changes can significantly boost brain health and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Some of them include –
1. Healthy Diet
Encourage your elders to embrace a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential nutrients to support their brain health. The Eatwell Guide by NHS can provide a clear roadmap for their dietary needs. The Mediterranean-style diet is also a great choice to protect your aging adults against memory loss. It consists of brain-foods such as leafy greens, fatty fish, nuts, and berries which are linked to cognitive benefits.
2. Adequate Sleep
Quality sleep is crucial for brain health of older adults as improper sleeping patterns can lead to the early onset of memory loss. Ensure that your elders get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to support their optimal brain function. Design a peaceful sleeping environment for them to avoid sleep disturbances.
3. Physical Activity
Engaging in regular physical activity offers numerous benefits for both physical and mental health. When it comes to your older adults, simple exercises like yoga, walking, and biking can play a key role in reducing their risk of memory loss and promoting brain health. Regular physical activity is also known to enhance blood flow to the brain and promote the growth of new brain cells in older adults.
4. Stress Management
The effect of chronic stress on aging brains can lead to cognitive decline. Motivate your loved ones to engage in meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness. This can help them manage stress and promote a sense of calmness. Also, minimize distractions and create a comfortable space for your them to perform these activities peacefully.
5. Social Engagement
A good social life contributes to happiness which in turn improves the cognitive function of your elders. Engage your loved ones in social activities and spend time with them to effectively stimulate their brain health. The positive effects of social engagement on the brain are particularly relevant for your seniors, as it helps to build cognitive reserve (the brain’s ability to effectively cope with age-related changes).
Brain-Boosting Activities to Improve Cognitive Function
Brain-boosting activities are more than just fun – they’re like workouts for the minds of your beloved elders. Help your older aging seniors to dive into these activities to challenge their memory, problem-solving skills, and more. These activities also help to improve their focus and uplift their mood. Some of the best brain activities for your older adults are –
Crossword puzzles are classic brain teasers that provide a fun way to enhance vocabulary and improve memory of your elders. Help them solve crossword puzzles to challenge their critical thinking and improve their knowledge of various subjects. Studies have proven that playing crossword puzzles reduces memory decline and boosts cognitive reserve.
Play memory games with your beloved elders to help them retain and recall information. These games come in various formats, such as matching cards, sequence recall, and pattern recognition. Regularly engaging in these memory games can enhance your elders’ short-term and long-term memory.
Motivate your aging adults to play chess as this strategic game requires critical thinking, planning, and anticipating the opponent’s moves. It can regularly boost their concentration and improve problem-solving abilities.
Learning a new language later in life can be a rewarding experience for your seniors. It is an excellent cognitive exercise that stimulates their brain by introducing new vocabulary, and grammar rules.
Bilingualism refers to the speaker’s ability to speak more than one language. According to a 2019 study, Bilingualism stimulates multiple regions of the brain and protects against cognitive decline. Hence, learning a new language can positively impact the memory retention ability of your seniors.
Encourage your loved ones to play a musical instrument or listen to music. This can have a profound impact on their brain function as music stimulates various areas of the brain. it enhances creativity, improves memory, and promotes emotional well-being. For your seniors, music can be a fun way to boost their brain health as it promotes a sense of happiness and nostalgia.
Doing artistic activities, such as drawing, painting, and sculpting can help your older adults think creatively. It encourages their cognitive flexibility, as it requires thinking outside the box and experimenting with different techniques. Motivate them regularly to practice different forms of art and keep in mind to encourage their fresh concepts.
Engaging in new hobbies, such as gardening or cooking can add a splash of excitement to the daily routine of your seniors. It can help to keep their brain active and also give them a sense of accomplishment. Therefore, encourage your elders to indulge in new hobbies to exercise their brains in different ways.
Aromatherapy is a wellness practice that involves the use of essential oils, to promote mental, and emotional well-being. These natural oils can help your elders relieve stress and improve cognitive function. Suggest them to inhale these oils as it can help them feel more alert and engaged. Essential oils like rosemary and peppermint have been linked to improved focus, concentration, and mental clarity.
Reading and Learning
Our brain is like a muscle, the more we use it the stronger it gets!! Encourage your elders to read regularly as it exposes their minds to new ideas, information, and perspectives.
Researchers believe that reading delays the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. It keeps the brain engaged and safeguards the mental health of your loved ones.
Brain-Training Apps and Games
In the digital age, numerous apps and games are designed that can improve your loved one’s cognitive skills, such as memory, attention, and decision-making. These tools offer convenient ways to exercise their aging brains. Some of the best brain-training apps for your older adults are Lumosity, BrainHQ, Wordle, Duolingo and a lot more.
The journey of aging brings cognitive changes in the brains of our elderly family members. While dementia disease poses a significant challenge to their brain health, there are simple strategies that can reduce the risk and boost their memory. Just like the physical health of your seniors, their mental health also requires attention and care to navigate the later stages of life. Therefore, by making conscious choices about their health and planning brain-boosting activities for them, you can preserve their mental health and help them retire with dignity.
Assured Home Nursing understands that taking care of a loved one suffering from memory loss can be overwhelming. This is why we are here to lend an extra helping hand. Our Alzheimer’s care service is designed to make your elders feel loved, respected, and valued throughout their golden journey. We assist them in ADLs and plan fun activities to improve their cognitive function. Through every interaction and every engagement, we strive to improve their quality of life. Book a free consultation today and our RNs will design a personalized plan according to the needs and preferences of your beloved elders. We don’t just provide care; we ensure that your seniors find happiness and comfort in every moment.
Take the first step towards providing your loved ones with the care they deserve. Schedule a free consultation now by calling us at (248) 593-8134. Our team is here to support you every step of the way.