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It’s no secret that as we age our bodies begin to change. And while a lot of attention is paid to the physical changes during your retirement years, retaining and improving your cognition can be just as important.
At First Community Village, we recognize this importance and we want to help our residents stay healthy in body and mind whether they’re enjoying independent living or receiving aid through assisted living.
Having said that, here are some ways to keep your brain healthy so that you can fully appreciate your golden years.
As we advance in age, our brains’ cognitive reserve begins to decrease, creating signs of slowing and memory loss. One of the ways to combat this is through a healthy diet featuring foods that deliver the kinds of nutrients vital for brain health.
One key group for improving brain health is omega-3 fatty acids, which can promote efficient electrical signaling in nerve cells, improve concentration and reduce memory loss. Omega-3s are regularly found in fish dishes such as salmon, herring and trout among others, though additional sources include the following:
- Flaxseed oil
- Brussels sprouts
Vitamin E is a beneficial free-radical that has been shown to delay advancement of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, so if this affliction runs in your family, regularly eating the following foods could be of great benefit:
- Peanut butter
- Pine nuts
- Sunflower seeds
- Turnip greens
- Corn oil
- Soybean oil
Other foods that should be part of your regular diet are those containing flavonoids, which are specialized antioxidants. These antioxidants have been shown to help improve Alzheimer’s disease patients’ cognition and have also been shown to delay memory decline in older women.
Some sources for flavonoids include the following:
- Dark chocolate
- Red wine
- Butternut squash
- Red grapes
Be sure to feast on these natural wonders and you’ll stand a better chance of keeping your brain healthy for years to come!
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Keeping an active mind means keeping an active body, as brain health is directly related to bodily health. So if you want to know how to keep your brain healthy, a good place to head would be a fitness center!
By engaging in mild to moderate exercise on a regular basis, seniors can increase the blood flow to their brains, which in turn reduces the risk of diabetes, stroke, dementia, heart attack and Alzheimer’s disease.
Keep Your Brain Healthy Through Sleep
Another way to boost your brain power as you age involves getting a regular night’s sleep. Even though sleep is often stressed for children and teenagers, the benefits of a good night’s sleep shouldn’t be overlooked by older adults.
Recently, researchers have discovered that during sleep the brain is cleared of waste material, making it function better upon waking and reducing the chance for the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
According to Jane Ferrie, Ph.D., who is a senior researcher at University College London Medical School, “sleep regenerates neurons that enable the brain to function optimally.” So if you want to ensure that your mind remains a steel trap during your retirement years, getting the necessary sleep is key.
And while getting regular sleep promotes brain health, not getting regular sleep leads to numerous problems. Some of these problems include the following:
- Disruption of neural pathways
- Struggles with memory
- Difficulty processing information
- Increase in mood swings and depression
- Feelings of distraction
So be sure to keep your brain healthy and get those forty winks!
Challenges and Tasks
There are plenty more ways to keep your brain healthy beyond those already listed, and most of them involve engaging in activities that will keep you alert and actively processing information.
- Be musical: Research has shown that tackling new and complex tasks over a long time period can greatly assist seniors’ minds.
- Boost your cooking skills: Since cooking utilizes all major senses, it therefore makes many areas of the brain active. And it never hurts to learn how to make a few more delicious dishes.
- Test your recollection: Here’s a way to spot-check your memory and help push it to its limits. Make a list of some kind – daily tasks, goals for the month, groceries – and memorize it, checking in an hour later to see how many items you can recall.
- Avoid using a calculator: This simple challenge will help you flex an area of your brain often neglected. Do the hard work yourself and get the benefits – you can always double-check afterwards.
- Learn a foreign language: Studies have shown having a rich vocabulary can protect against cognitive impairment, and studying and utilizing your new language will create further brain stimulation.
Lastly, one additional way to keep your brain healthy is to do something you’ll enjoy no matter what – engaging in regular socializing.
Research has shown that social interaction can improve brain health and socialization has also been shown to lead to longer lives as well! So all those great outings, card games, shopping trips and parties you love being a part of are also terrific ways to boost your mental health.
So there you have it – some excellent ways to keep your brain healthy and improve your brain power, all of which are sure to make your retirement years a time of fulfilling activity!