Perhaps living a full life is not so much about being young at heart but young in your mind. Find out how to keep your mind sharp at any age.
Keeping your brain young
Being old doesn’t have to mean stepping outside of life. While aged care residents may be less mobile and need help with everyday tasks, this doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy having something to look forward to.
As the Loved One of a person in aged care, you are no doubt concerned about your family member’s mental clarity and emotional wellbeing. The good news is that a decline in brain function and mood does not have to be an inevitable part of aging.
Research has found there are many benefits to staying mentally active when it comes to overall health and wellbeing for the elderly. Like anything else, it is important to exercise your brain to improve its functionality.
Take a look at some of the ways you can encourage your elderly relative to keep their brain ‘young at heart’.
Look for mental stimulation
Simple activities like crosswords, trivia questions or card games have been reported by Harvard Health as being helpful in “generating new brain cells, developing neurological plasticity and building up functional reserves that provide a hedge against future cell loss.”
Reading, watching educational videos or doing puzzles can also help to ‘exercise the brain’ and keep it brain young. Arts and crafts or anything requiring mental effort and problem-solving are also effective.
According to Harvard Health, using your muscles also helps your mind. Their reports shares that, “Animals who exercise regularly increase the number of tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen-rich blood to the region of the brain that is responsible for thought. Exercise also spurs the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells (synapses).”
To promote more mental alertness in your elderly relative, encourage them to take part in whatever exercise they are capable of. They may enjoy taking a short walk with you during your visit. Just be sure to stay close and point out obstacles if they are having trouble seeing. A gentle hand on their elbow or a walker to lean on can be helpful to prevent falls.
Good nutrition helps your mind as well as your body. Your Loved One should have access to a varied diet, which includes fruit, vegetables, fish and protein.
It is possible for aged care residents to eat a range of healthy foods even if they have trouble with chewing. Speak to the staff at your Loved One’s facility to understand what their meals consist of each day.
Limit salt intake and alcohol
High blood pressure in midlife has been found to increase the risk of cognitive decline in old age.
Good health really is for life so reducing salt and keeping alcohol to a minimum are essential in old age. Blood sugar is another area to keep an eye on, with excess sweets and treats contributing to weight gain and increasing the risk of diabetes, which is a risk factor for dementia.
Stay happy and social
Elderly people who feel positive and socialise regularly have lower risks of developing dementia and score more highly on cognitive function tests.
Encourage your Loved One to get enough rest and talk to someone if they are feeling depressed or anxious so they can stay strong in their mind and get more from life. You could also consider accompanying them to a regular social activity at their facility.
While our professional expertise at Healthcare 2 You extends to eye care, nutrition, physiotherapy and podiatry, we are interested in all areas of senior health and wellbeing. To find out more about how we can help your Loved One to improve their health, get in touch today.