7 Steps to Maintain Brain Health for Seniors

Senior exercises with resistance bands

We’ve all heard the saying, “Use it or lose it,” regarding the need for physical exercise to keep our bodies fit and healthy. But as it turns out, the same can be also said for our minds.

Today, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect more than five million seniors in the U.S. And as a result, the need for older adults to focus on brain health has never been greater.

The good news for seniors is that there is growing evidence that older Americans can preserve their brain function and safeguard their memory by adopting specific healthy lifestyle activities.

The Value of Brain Healthy Habits for Seniors

Colleen Dwyer, RN, NHA, Executive Director and Administrator of Bryn Mawr Terrace in Bryn Mawr, PA, says. “As experts in brain health explain it, our aging brains can lose some of their functional capabilities over time if they do not receive proper stimulation. A lack of stimulation can cause a gradual decline in our cognitive ability and lead to health and safety issues such as memory loss and falls – the leading cause of serious injury and death among persons over age 65.

“However, by participating in brain-healthy activities, seniors can keep their minds sharp and also reduce their risk of cognitive decline and dementia as they age. Most importantly, brain health specialists offer valuable advice on which activities are most helpful to older adults.”

7 Brain Healthy Activities That Can Sharpen Your Mind and Boost Your Memory 

Both the Harvard Health article, “Six steps to cognitive health,” and the Alzheimer’s Association® section on Brain health” provide excellent examples of activities that can keep your brain sharp and protect it from decline and memory loss.

Recommended activities include:

1.  Get moving – Regular physical activity and exercise benefits both mind and body for seniors. It has been shown that cardiovascular activity such as a brisk walk increases both heart rate and blood flow, which in turn promotes the growth of brain cells.

2.   Never stop learning – “Lifelong learning” has becomean importantstaple for long-term brain health. Brain health experts say continued education of any kind can help to reduce seniors’ risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, consider taking a class at a local college, community center or online, or teach yourself a new subject.

3.  Be wise and socialize – Research on the brain health of older adults has proven that those who are regularly engaged in social interaction maintain their brain function and reduce their risk of depression and dementia. To increase your social engagement, consider volunteering at a local hospital or animal shelter, meeting friends regularly for lunch or joining a club that gives you a sense of purpose.

4.  Give your brain a workout – According to the National Institutes of Health, practicing mental exercises during the senior years can improve brain health and help maintain the thinking skills that are needed as our brains age. They advise that activities such as reading, board games, crossword puzzles, learning a second language, painting, increasing your exposure to classical music and acquiring new skills can be highly valuable. 

5.  Eat smart! – A healthy, balanced diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit can also help seniors reduce their risk of cognitive decline. The Harvard Health article, “Foods linked to better brainpower,” provides a variety of brain-healthy food choices that you can incorporate into your meals.

6.  Catch enough ZZZs  Not getting sufficient sleep at night due to insomnia, sleep apnea or other medical conditions can result in problems with memory and thinking. Research has proven that sleep is an essential ingredient for healthy brain functioning in seniors and other segments of the population. For a good night’s rest, sleep experts say to make sure your sleep environment is quiet, dark and cool enough.

7.   Manage your stress  Getting older can add stress to our lives.Physical ailments, the passing of family members and friends and changes in our ability to do things that used to come easy can all add to our level of anxiety. Stress causes reduced cognitive functioning and can also lead to serious emotional health issues such as mental exhaustion and depression. 

Fortunately, there are several proven stress-reduction activities that you can try. Consider walking, yoga, tai chi, gardening, meditating and spirituality. These brain-healthy activities can create a calmer living environment that also supports healthy brain functioning.

Colleen adds, “By incorporating these brain-healthy tips into your normal routine, you can stay mentally sharp as you age and also reduce your chances of cognitive decline and dementia. And remember, it’s never too early or too late to get started!”

For more helpful senior living and senior care information, we invite you to read our monthly articles and tips on a variety of important senior health topics. We also welcome you to stop in for a tour to see for yourself why we’ve been rated “Best in Senior Care.” 

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, “7 Steps to Maintain Brain Health for Seniors,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

A Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

There are times when the challenges associated with advanced age, a prolonged illness or a chronic condition make 24-hour care and support a necessity. At Bryn Mawr Terrace, we’re always here for you and your family. Our compassionate, professional team treats our residents as family and respects each of them as the individuals they are, all with their own unique life story.

We understand that each one of our residents has unique needs and desires, so we deliver personalized care and services that are tailored to each individual. The amenities and activities offered within our community are designed to keep our residents happy, fulfilled and living well. From delicious dining to a variety of social programming, we offer a lifestyle that’s meant to be lived!

Located near Bryn Mawr Hospital, Bryn Mawr Terrace – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has provided exceptional care and services to seniors and their families since 1966. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Today, Bryn Mawr Terrace serves as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC),

offering a range of services – including short-term rehabilitationtraditional nursing careindependent living, personal carememory carerestorative care and respite care – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Bryn Mawr Terrace and our variety of needs-based lifestyle services, please call us at 610.525.8300 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Bryn Mawr Terrace and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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