Forgetfulness. Confusion. Disorientation. These as well as other impacts of cognitive decline make life challenging for older adults and people who care for them, and may result from:
- Health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as others
- Brain injury
- Medication side effects
- Poor lifestyle choices
- And more
However, it’s essential to realize that aging in and of itself doesn’t have to equal an unavoidable lessening of our memory and capacity to clearly think and learn new things. There are steps we can take to protect and improve senior cognitive health, such as:
- Start (and remain) moving. Regular exercise, especially cardio workouts, have been linked to a marked improvement in the brain’s ability to create new network connections as well as maintain older ones – a key component of cognitive health. Not just that, but the actual size of the brain structure associated with learning and memory increases in those who are physically active, helping to optimize spatial memory functioning. The most common suggestion is to aim for half an hour on most days of physical exercise, but make sure to speak with the doctor before starting or changing any exercise program.
- Exercise your mind, too. Keeping the mind engaged and active is proven to establish cognitive reserve in the brain, allowing for compensation for certain brain changes related to aging or other conditions. In one recent study, individuals who engaged in meaningful, intellectually-stimulating activities achieved greater memory improvement than those who did not. Good choices to keep the brain active include playing games, reading, learning new skills or hobbies, and working or volunteering.
- Interact with others. A number of research studies document the damaging impact of social isolation on both physical and emotional health. Staying socially connected with friends, family, as well as the community at large is critical for seniors. By keeping the brain active and engaged, the danger for health complications such as depression is lowered. When in-person get-togethers are not possible, utilize technology (such as FaceTime, Skype and Zoom) to socialize, and communicate with others through social media or simply just through good, old-fashioned letter and card writing.
Anthem Home Care, a provider of Portland dementia care, can help older adults increase cognitive functioning and general health and wellbeing through customized in-home care services that can include:
- Providing transportation to outings, the gym, exercise classes, medical appointments, and more
- Preparing healthy meals
- Companionship to improve socialization and take part in mental-stimulating puzzles and games, conversations, exercising together, trying new hobbies and learning new skills together, and much more
- Taking care of housekeeping and laundry chores, allowing seniors and their families to spend high quality time together
- And many others
Contact our Portland dementia care team at 361-643-2323 for more information on how we can assist the older adults in your life, and to request a free in-home consultation. For a full list of each of the communities we serve, please visit our Service Area page.