For decades, cognitive decline was considered a part of the natural aging process. However, in recent years, scientists discovered an older adult’s brain continues to function effectively when he or she follows a healthy diet, gets regular physical and mental exercise, and reduces stress. There are a number of ways to maintain or boost brain health.
1. Play Games
Choose games or activities for your loved one that require evaluation or strategizing before acting. Simple card games require seniors to think about the cards already played, what moves might gain them more points, or how to outwit their opponent. Other recommendations include crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, and word puzzles. Playing games with friends or family members also provides the chance to socialize.
Family members may not always have time to play card games with their loved ones, or they may have some errands to run. In such situations, a professional caregiver can take over the caregiving duties. When considering home care, Portland, ME, families should make sure their senior loved ones have the resources they need to maintain their independence and remain healthy. Trusted in-home care professionals can assist seniors with daily tasks like cooking, bathing, and exercise, and they can also encourage them to focus on healthier lifestyle habits.
2. Switch Hands
People commonly use one hand when performing mundane tasks like brushing their teeth. However, these activities are more of a habit and do not stimulate the brain. Using the opposite hand triggers brain function and causes the formation of new neural pathways. Encourage your loved one to try performing more daily tasks with the opposite hand.
Neuroscientists from Harvard University discovered meditation has positive effects on the frontal lobes of the brain. The study involved 16 seniors who meditated for 45 minutes daily over the course of two months. By the end of the study, researchers found the participants demonstrated increased frontal lobe activity. Your loved one can try meditating by sitting in a quiet room, recalling a pleasant event, and focusing on all the details of the moment.
4. Go Dancing
Exercise benefits cardiovascular and cognitive health. When learning a new dance step, the brain pays extra attention to the actions performed. Encourage your loved one to join a dance class, have fun, and experience the joy of learning.
Listening to music and dancing are two of the many activities that can benefit seniors with dementia. If your elderly loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, trust in the Portland dementia home care experts at Home Care Assistance to help him or her manage the condition while continuing to live at home. In addition to high quality dementia care, we also offer specialized Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and stroke care.
Many seniors are turning to coloring as a favorite pastime. Similar to meditation, this activity allows aging adults to focus on the task at hand and clear their minds of everything else. Unlike children’s coloring books, adult coloring books feature complex patterns. Coloring has been shown to reduce the production of cortisol, the hormone associated with inflammation, stress, and depression, and it is also a wonderful way to encourage fine motor movement in seniors with arthritis.
6. Get Adequate Sleep
Seniors who do not get seven to nine hours of restful sleep at night often have difficulty concentrating during the day. Statistics indicate approximately 40 percent of adults aged 65 or over have insomnia. If sleep is a problem, encourage your loved one to make a few lifestyle changes such as not consuming caffeine after lunch. Make sure your loved one’s bedroom is darkened, temperature controlled, and physically comfortable, and encourage him or her to adopt a regular nightly routine that promotes better sleep.
Persistent insomnia and unhealthy sleeping habits can increase your loved one’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease. If your elderly loved one is living with Alzheimer’s and needs help managing the symptoms, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s home care. Portland seniors can rely on our revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program that helps slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. CTM also encourages seniors to engage with others in an enjoyable way and helps them build new routines to look forward to. For more tips on promoting brain health, or to learn about our revolutionary senior care plans, give us a call at (207) 835-4849 today.