Age-related cognitive decline may start around the age of 50 or sometime during mid-life. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, it often occurs later, around the age of 70 or so. If this is what you’re noticing in your senior loved one, make sure he or she has been properly evaluated to rule out dementia and other issues. If it’s determined your loved one likely has mild cognitive impairment due to age, there are some steps you can take to help in his or her daily life.
Clear, Focused Communication
Age-related cognitive decline sometimes results in instances of confusion during conversations. For example, if you just use pronouns to refer to the people you’re talking about, your loved one may lose track of who you’re referring to. Address cognitive issues of this nature by:
• Sticking to one topic per conversation
• Referring to people by name if you’re noticing signs of confusion
• Giving your loved one a chance to process what you’re saying instead of assuming he or she isn’t listening
Regular Physical Exercise
Numerous studies suggest regular exercise promotes better brain health. It can also be a good way to promote relaxation and mental clarity. From casual walking, yoga, and swimming to stationary bike use and low-impact aerobic workouts, there are many options when it comes to using physical activity to address cognitive decline.
Better Sleep Habits
A lack of sufficient sleep can contribute to confusion and memory lapses and make cognitive decline seem worse than it really is. If you notice your loved one isn’t sleeping well or is napping too much during the day, handle his or her age-related cognitive issues better by helping him or her get back to a normal and productive sleep pattern. Doing so may involve:
• Creating a more relaxing sleep environment
• Keeping your loved one active and engaged throughout the day to minimize napping
• Cutting down on stimulating substances like caffeine
• Creating a soothing pre-bedtime routine (e.g., listening to music, having a relaxing bath)
Use memory cues to help your loved one address age-related cognitive decline in a way that allows him or her to retain pride and independence. Memory cues or prompts can include smartphone reminders or something as simple as Post-it notes strategically placed to offer subtle reminders about appointments and other things on your loved one’s to-do list.
A home caregiver can help your loved one exercise his or her memory and cognitive skills every day. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of elder care. Portland families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
An aging brain affected by cognitive decline may function better with a steady flow of nutrients from healthy foods. As is the case with exercise, there are many options that can be both beneficial and enjoyable. According to Cleveland Clinic, a diet that maintains optimal brain function is one that includes:
• Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and other bright-colored fruits
• Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids
• Walnuts, flaxseeds, and soybeans
• Whole grains
• Lean proteins
Seniors with severe cognitive challenges may find it difficult to manage their nutrition and overall health on their own. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
Engagement & Interaction
Another way to preserve mental function and address age-related cognitive decline is with active engagement, socialization, and interaction. Being actively engaged—whether it’s with games, senior-friendly apps or websites, arts and crafts, hobbies, cooking and baking with you or another caregiver, or daily conversations—also minimizes the risk of depression and anxiety, which could worsen cognitive decline.
A home caregiver can help your loved one find ways to stay engaged and prevent boredom, isolation, and loneliness. For families living in Portland, respite care can be a wonderful solution when their aging loved ones need companionship and socialization a few hours a week or just need minor assistance with daily household tasks. At Home Care Assistance, we thrive on helping seniors maintain their independence while living in the comfort of home. For more information about our flexible, customizable home care plans, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (207) 835-4849.