We generally accept the fact that as we get older, our memories will start to get worse. We might forget names or where we put things. It’s one of the most terrifying prospects about getting older, but it doesn’t have to be inevitable.
If you encourage your older loved ones to put in some work, they can keep their brain fit and healthy for much longer.
Get Physical Exercise
Exercise helps to increase oxygen flow around your body, which includes the oxygen flow to your mind. Not only this, but exercise increases the connections between brain cells (synapses), which means that your brain cells will be more efficient and adaptable – helping to perform better as you get older.
Exercise is also a great way to look after your mood as it will release endorphins into your body and it will help you look after your heart and lungs, which in turn contribute to good brain health. It doesn’t have to be intense exercise, a walk outside or some light stretching can have a wonderful effect.
Build Social Networks
Strong social ties have been linked with a lessened risk of dementia, as well as lower blood pressure and longer life expectancy.
Encourage your loved one to attend social groups and try to visit with them often. If you are looking into independent living facilities, be sure that you choose one with a strong emphasis on community and keeping the mind healthy, as this will mean that your loved one can lead a longer and more fulfilling life.
Focus On Diet
Good nutrition will have benefits for both mind and body. Studies have shown that a mediteranean style diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils and fish can help lessen the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
A good way to encourage positive dietary choices for a loved one is to cook a healthy meal together and this also means that you can spend some time together without watching the television!
Mentally stimulating activities such as solving puzzles and doing math problems have been shown to increase neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to adapt and learn new things.
Activities that involve both manual and mental work such as drawing, painting or learning an instrument are particularly effective, and taking a class together could be a great way to promote a healthy brain for you both and to forge a deeper bond.
Limit Alcohol Intake
Alcohol can definitely help family gatherings to be less awkward! However, drinking a lot of alcohol over a long period of time has been shown to increase the risk of developing dementia as well as impacting on both physical and mental health.
Conversations about drinking are awkward at best, but it is worth trying to bring up these topics as it can have an incredibly positive impact on health. It’s also worth considering the culture within your family, for example if you often have family meals where a lot of drinking takes place, perhaps work to try and change this so that family gatherings are more sober affairs.