As we age, our cognitive health can begin to decline. You walk into a room and forget why, or it’s difficult to recall the name of someone you just met. For many older adults, these occurrences happening more frequently can be concerning. Luckily, there are many ways to strengthen your brain that can improve function and keep you sharp with age.
Read on to learn the basics of brain health, helpful tips to boost your brainpower and how senior living communities like Beacon Hill can provide older adults with a more stimulating life.
What is Brain Health?
Brain health is an essential part of our overall health and well-being. The term refers to the preservation of brain integrity, as well as cognitive and mental functions. Just like your muscles can weaken when you don’t work them out, the same can happen with your brain. A healthy brain allows you to make the most of your abilities and deal with the range of life situations encountered on a daily basis, ranging from emotional stresses to physical demands.
Evaluating Cognitive Decline in Older Adults
Evaluating cognitive decline for signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s is challenging. According to studies from the National Institute on Aging, physicians were unaware of cognitive impairment in more than 40% of their cognitively impaired patients. Some common signs of cognitive decline to note and getting a screening for include:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in problem solving
- Difficulty with familiar tasks like driving or using a cell phone
- Confusion about time or location
- Problems speaking or writing
- Changes in mood or personality
Even if there are serious causes behind cognitive decline, early detection can help your physician treat the underlying condition, address safety issues and help you make plans for the future. Should you have concerns about your cognitive health or that of a loved one, it’s important to consult a medical professional as soon as possible.
Tips for Boosting Brain Health
With age comes changes to the body, and the brain is no exception. Try these tips to help improve brain health as you age.
The benefits of regular exercise are numerous. Routine physical activity helps with everything from cardiovascular health to bone and muscle strength. What many don’t consider is the boost to the brain. The American Psychological Association (APA) notes, “physically active elderly people perform better than sedentary elderly people on cognitive tasks such as reasoning, vocabulary, memory and reaction time.”
Eat a Healthy Diet
Some foods are better for brain health than others. Foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to be beneficial for brain function as well as your general physical health.
These are a few of the best brain foods to incorporate into your diet according to Harvard Medical School:
- Green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and broccoli
- Fatty fish such as salmon or canned light tuna
- Berries such as strawberries and blueberries
- Natural sources of caffeine such as tea and coffee
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
A good night’s sleep is essential to helping your brain reset and recharge. Getting seven to nine hours of interrupted sleep per night allows your brain to store memories effectively, build new cells, create new neural pathways and flush out harmful substances. If you find it difficult to get a solid seven hours, avoid caffeine in the afternoon, turn off electronics 30-60 minutes before bed and go to bed at the same time each night.
Give Your Brain a Workout
Beyond physical exercise, your brain needs regular workouts, too. Focus on activities that stimulate your mind and make you think. This could be anything from crossword puzzles and sudoku to learning a new language or instrument. A study from the National Endowment for the Arts indicates these sorts of activities stimulate connections between nerve cells in the brain and can even encourage the growth of new brain cells.
Maintain a Social Schedule
For older adults who live alone, socialization is often a challenge. Unfortunately, this increased isolation is detrimental to brain health. Studies have shown the rate of cognitive decline was 70% less in people with frequent social contact than those with low social activity. Additionally, the benefits of socialization for seniors include reduced anxiety, depression and stress, as well as increased self-esteem and sense of belonging.
Live a Stimulating Life at Beacon Hill
At Beacon Hill we’re dedicated to the total health of each resident. Our community life revolves around physical, mental and emotional well-being. Whether that’s via fresh, chef-prepared meals in our dining venues or a personalized wellness plan, our team is dedicated to helping you enjoy your retirement years.
If you or a loved one would like to learn more about our community in Lombard, Illinois, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to answer your questions and show you what sets Beacon Hill apart from the rest.