Can we help prevent cognitive change?

We know that as we age, our body and brain change as well.   Every so often we might forget a name, word or birthday. While inconvenient, is it indicative of something else? Some forms of forgetting are expected, while some may signal a more significant change. Can any of these changes be prevented, or, can we slow down the changes? Research does seem to indicate that we can help slow down these changes.

While there are quite a few risk factors for cognitive change beyond our control, there are activities that we can control that could help slow down these changes.  These activities include: eating healthy, regular exercise and consistent mental and social interactions. These lifestyle habits seem to comprise a promising strategy to prevent cognitive decline. Journal of Geriatric Medicine

Given the continuing research into the aging brain, and the increase in our older population, we can expect more studies, research and helpful strategies to slow down these changes. So, let’s do our part and start engaging in these strategies.

Let’s take a look at these three activities that may help a healthy brain.

Eating Healthy

In our March blog we discussed healthy eating and shared our tips for successful eating plans. Healthy eating is a good defense against many diseases and ailments–both physical and mental. The research continues to support the benefits of well-planned meals filled with fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish. A Mediterranean style diet includes whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts and fish. This diet continues to deliver health benefits that can: lower cholesterol, help with weight loss, improve rheumatoid arthritis, and reduce the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and various types of cancer. Harvard Medical School, Health Blog 2013.

Regular Exercise

After checking with your doctor, develop an exercise plan that works for you. Find a good pair of walking shoes and take that walk, attend an aerobic exercise class, enroll in a strength training program, try water aerobics or even ballroom dancing. When you get moving you find yourself feeling better, moving better and, yes, the research suggests thinking better.

Mental and Social Interactions

Staying Cognitively Active

Keeping your brain active includes not only socializing with friends, but learning new skills as well. The National Institute on Aging (May 17, 2017) noted that: “engaging in meaningful activities, like volunteering or hobbies, help you feel happier and healthier.  Learning new skills may improve your thinking ability, too.” Research seems to indicate that adults who learn something new help improve their memory.  And, as it happens, April is National Volunteer month. This is a great month to offer your skills, time and expertise to help others—keep your brain active as well. And, remember there are other ways to exercise your brain: read a good book, teach a class, learn a new hobby, etc.

So, while the evidence is still coming in, eat well, exercise often and keep your brain strong and ready with new activities and social connections –for your best future!

And, if you need assistance, we are here to help you by providing fall prevention assistance, skilled nursing and palliative home care, as well as caregivers for dementia home care and other elder home care needs.