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When it comes to your brain health, it’s never just one thing that can have a positive or negative impact. There are a lot of different factors that can play into brain function and cognitive ability. Genetics, physical health, lifestyle, stress, and even diet all play vital parts in our overall brain health.
As such, it’s important to educate yourself on how to maintain brain health. Being aware of early warning signs can help you catch and address issues before they arise or get too serious, helping you keep your mind sharp and functioning well. Here are a few valuable things to remember.
Let’s get physical
We all know how important physical activity is for our bodies and general health. It keeps our muscles, bones, and ligaments in the best possible condition, helping us stay fit and mobile. It also helps prevent injuries and disease. But did you know that physical activity is also good for your brain?
More and more studies show that physical exercise can have several positive impacts on the brain. From increasing metabolism within the brain itself (which may reduce chances of Alzheimer’s), to engaging brain networks that maintain old connections while helping create new ones, as well as enhancing the regions of the brain vital to learning and memory.
Current guidelines recommend a minimum of two and a half hours of exercise per week (though about 45 minutes/day is ideal), which of course can vary depending on your capacities. Talk with your healthcare professional and decide what works best for you. Walks with friends, family, or a pet are a great option — or swimming at the local pool, yoga, pickleball, whatever it is you enjoy, are all great ways to keep your mind and body fit. Don’t forget to start slow and take safety precautions so you can avoid any injuries.
There’s no avoiding stress. It’s a part of all our lives and comes from a variety of sources. While you may not be able to avoid stress completely — there are ways of managing it.
Chronic stress can lead to adverse effects on your brain health. It can lead to anxiety, which can have a severe negative impact on your day-to-day life. Stress and anxiety can affect sleep, appetite, the immune system, and more. It is also known to have adverse repercussions on memory and cognitive function, as well as escalating the risk for Alzheimer’s, other forms of dementia, and mental health disorders like depression.
Fortunately, there are many ways to manage stress. Journaling is a popular one, as is exercise, meditation and mindfulness exercises, or enjoying simple comforts like reading a book, catching up with a friend or a cup of tea. Find the stress relievers that work best for you, and make them a daily part of your life.
You’ve likely heard the old saying, “...you are what you eat”. Well, it’s an old saying for a reason. The healthier your diet, the better your chances are of leading a long and healthy life, both physically and mentally. Not only will a healthy and nutritious diet make your body feel good, it’s good for your brain. A balanced diet can help keep your blood pressure level down as well.
Studies have shown that a healthy diet can help resist the onset of Alzheimer’s, and the Mediterranean diet has also shown evidence of lowering your chances of getting dementia. A healthy diet can also maintain cognition, so it works double time.
Exercise your brain
The brain is a muscle, and, like any other muscle, it must be exercised. Okay, well, half of this is true. Your brain is not, in fact, a muscle. It’s an organ. It does, however, need to be exercised like a muscle.
Brain teasers, exercises, and games have shown evidence of keeping your mind in tip-top shape. Doing so can not only help you maintain cognitive ability, it can help resist and avoid loss in function and capability. They can also help offset the potential for Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Have you tried Wordle? Check it out! It's a quick and fun word game that you can place once per day.
If games aren’t your thing, don’t worry! There are a lot of ways to engage your mind in healthy and fun ways: reading, listening to music, crafts, creating art (playing music, painting, writing, etc.), socializing, doing puzzles, and much more. Whatever your favorite way is to exercise your mind, do it regularly and often.
Your mind is one of the most important things you possess. It’s a vital part of your overall health and wellbeing. Taking care of it is a great way to take preventative measures against brain and mental health illnesses and disorders. And as with most healthy habits, a multi-faceted approach is the best way to manage your brain health. There isn’t any one thing that will keep your brain healthy and thriving, but like your brain, its health is dependent upon a lot of little things working in concert that create a robust and capable mind as we age.
Cognitive health is something that we tend to take for granted, but its what allows us to think clearly, learn, and remember. These are all important in our everyday function, but as we age and our bodies begin to change, our brains change as well. Some parts of the brain, including those used in learning and other complicated mental activities, begin to shrink. Blood flow in the brain may decrease, and communication between neurons may become less effective. Even in healthy older adults, these changes can begin to affect our cognitive function, making us slower to recall names and remember words, causing us to struggle with multitasking and diminishing our ability to pay attention. In people with Alzheimers or dementia, this loss of cognitive abilities is progressive.While there isnt a cure for cognitive decline yet, studies indicate there may be a link between brain games and improving cognitive abilities. The research may be inconclusive, but more medical experts are recommending brain games to slow down or prevent senior memory loss. Just as physical exercise keeps your body in shape, certain games and puzzles can keep your brain active and healthy.Five Ways Brain Games and Active Learning Benefit SeniorsBrain games help slow down age-related mental decline.Many seniors experience an age-related mental decline with slower reaction times, diminished vocabulary and a memory that isnt as sharp as it used to be. This is all par for the course of living a long, happy life. However, brain games and active learning can help reengage and improve a persons thinking skills. Its especially helpful if you vary the games played to promote learning new skills, words or trivia facts.Brain games help seniors stay connected with loved ones.Wondering what to do with an aging loved one in your care? Try playing a brain game the whole family can enjoy. Not only will you be giving their brain health a boost, but youll also get the chance to connect with your loved one in a meaningful way. You can include a wider network of friends and family by connecting through a video chat app on your smartphone or tablet while playing online brain games.Brain games can help alleviate senior stress and anxiety.Finishing a crossword puzzle or playing a board game can help ease feelings of stress or anxiety. Playing games is good for the mind and soul, as it keeps people socially active with friends, family or others in their community. Being more social helps eliminate or reduce the feelings of loneliness or depression many seniors face. Who couldnt benefit from a boost in their brain health, mood and social skills?Mastering new skills or games makes seniors feel engaged.Youre never too old to learn a new skill or master a new game. Finding new hobbies as we age is essential to our mental and physical health. If quilting, gardening or photography arent quite your senior loved ones speed, consider helping them explore a new language through the many learning apps on your smartphone or tablet. You can also try your hand at helping them learn a new brain game. Staying in a routine encourages passive brain participation. If we never push our boundaries and develop new cognitive skills, we may start to feel a disconnect with the world around us.Learning and playing games will keep you young at heart.If you want to stay young at heart, the secret is finding new ways to test your cognitive abilities. Its incredible how games that encourage active learning can make people feel younger and smarter while combating the feelings of boredom, restlessness or isolation plaguing todays seniors. Whether its an online version of Jeopardy! or a simple game of match the cards, you cant go wrong with games.Effective Brain Stimulating Games and Activities for SeniorsYou may be wondering whats categorized as a brain game when purchasing gifts for aging loved ones. The truth is that, while just about any game is better than being sedentary and watching television, not every game is effective for slowing cognitive decline. There are a number that allow you to stretch your brain, including:ChessA classic game of strategy, chess helps build logical reasoning and problem-solving skills. It may initially seem complicated, but learning how to play can strengthen cognitive function, increasing IQ and focus. Chess can be played in person or online.CheckersRecent research indicates that regularly playing checkers is connected to larger brain volume and improved cognitive health. Checkers can help improve hand-eye coordination, increase mental acuity, and alleviate stress. Because you play with other people, it can also help provide positive social interaction.ScrabbleScrabble is beneficial for every age group, but particularly for older adults, because it improves memory functions, lowers blood pressure and increases overall general wellbeing. It can be educational, too, because there are sometimes words you and your loved one didnt previously know.Word PuzzlesThere is evidence to suggest that playing games focused on language(Opens in a new window) may lead to improvements in memory, cognitive speed and verbal learning. These games include crosswords, word searches, anagrams, cryptograms, branded games like Mad Libs and online games like the recently released Wordle.Playing CardsCard games help people practice skills like reasoning, problem solving, memory and concentration. Card games can be played with a standard deck of cards or may have cards specific for the game, like Uno.Matching and Memory Games for AdultsBy testing short-term memory and the ability to remember patterns, matching and memory games engage the brain, activating areas related to recall and pattern recognition. Try a card matching game, or a memory game like listing the months of the year in alphabetical order or listing things that start with a certain letter.Trivia GamesPlaying trivia games can be an entertaining experience while also stimulating older adults minds. These games can be played as individual or on teams, and the topics and methods of playing can be modified to meet the needs of the people playing. Team trivia and Trivial Pursuit are two examples of fun trivia games.Brain Stimulating Games for Alzheimers and DementiaThere are many treatments in the works for people with Alzheimers and/or dementia, including new medication and deep brain stimulation. While these treatments show a lot of promise, science has not yet found a cure for these debilitating conditions. There is evidence to indicate, however, that stimulating the brain using certain games can be helpful.Recently, research was reviewed on the role of games in dementia care, looking at board games, video games, and virtual reality games. The review concluded that when people in the early and middle stages of dementia played these games, they saw improvement in a variety of cognitive abilities, including short-term memory, reaction time, problem solving, communication and logical reasoning. More research is needed, but there are some games believed to support a wide variety of cognitive skills for people with dementia.When choosing brain games for adults with dementia, it is important to select games suitable for the individuals cognitive abilities and preferences, carefully creating simple, familiar and non-frustrating experiences. Examples of games and activities for seniors with dementia include:Word PuzzlesAs stated earlier, games focused on language can improve memory, speed and verbal learning. For people with Alzheimers and other forms of dementia, research suggests that playing these games can lead to improvements not only seen through cognitive testing but also through neurophysical tests.Jigsaw PuzzlesWorking on a jigsaw puzzle is a fun way to work on memory and reasoning skills. Jigsaw puzzles come in a variety of difficulties, from simple, easy-to-piece-together puzzles to more complicated puzzles that require quite a bit of hand-eye coordination and memory recall. This makes it easy to choose a puzzle appropriate for a persons abilities.Dice GamesDice games often have a central component of luck, but they are good for helping people with dementia practice numerical and calculation skills. Brain-stimulating dice games include backgammon, kismet, liars dice, shut the box and Yahtzee.Card GamesCard games, as mentioned above, can boost skills like reasoning, problem solving, memory, and concentration. Since these skills are often in decline in people with dementia, they can be extremely beneficial. Matching games like go fish, trick-taking games like bridge, and even solitaire variations can be good for people with dementia.Board GamesBoard games use a premade board with game pieces and often elements like cards and dice. One recent study found that a higher frequency of playing board games between ages 70 and 79 resulted in less cognitive decline. Good board games to try include Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Ticket to Ride, Cranium and chess.Video GamesWhether traditional desktop games, game systems like Wii and Switch, or cell phone and tablet games, research supports the theory that these games can enhance cognitive function in older adults, improving visual recognition, visual memory and attention. Tetris, Candy Crush Saga, Animal Crossing, Wii Sports, and mobile or app versions of classic word games, puzzles and board games can all be beneficial.BrightStar Careoffers around-the-clock in-home senior careAt BrightStar Care, we take a unique approach to caring for older adults by pairing our unmatched clinical expertise with key education resources to help and empower families. BrightStar Care helps families meet the physical, mental, and emotional needs of an older relative by providing excellence in home health care.
Florida seniors and their families worry about memory, cognitive issues, and dementia. And rightly so.Columbia University research finds that 1 in 10 seniors over 65 have dementia, with another 22% having mild cognitive issues. Scientists are working hard to understand and treat dementia, with more than $3.7 billion being spent on Alzheimers, a type of dementia, in the US this year.But what can you do to help yourself and senior loved ones in the fight against dementia?Many studies focus on the science-backed advantages of superfoods, vitamins, and supplements in preventing dementia in seniors. And since many scientists agree that changes to the brain can start more than a decade before symptoms appear, it is never too soon to start eating healthy.At Florida Senior Consulting, we are devoted to assisting seniors in making informed choices about their health, including the latest information on dementia.Understanding Dementia and Its Risk FactorsDementia is a collective term that includes various cognitive disorders affecting memory, thought processes, and daily functioning. Its risk factors include age, genetics, unhealthy lifestyle choices, and specific medical conditions.What is Dementia, and How Does It Affect Seniors?Definition of DementiaDementia is not a single disease but a term that describes a group of symptoms affecting cognitive functions. These symptoms are severe enough to interfere with daily activities and independent living.Impact on SeniorsFor seniors, dementia can be particularly debilitating as it impacts not just memory but also other cognitive functions like reasoning, planning, and communication. This often leads to a loss of independence, and as the disease progresses, more comprehensive care is needed. Dementia can also cause emotional and behavioral changes, affecting not just the individual but also their families and caregivers.Prevalence Among SeniorsThe risk of dementia increases with age. According to the Alzheimers Association, 1 in 9 people 65 and older has Alzheimers disease, a common form of dementia. By the time individuals reach the age of 85, the risk increases to nearly 1 in 3.Types of DementiaDementia is an umbrella term for various conditions, each affecting the brain differently. Here are some common types:Alzheimers Disease: The most common form, affecting 60-80% of dementia cases. It primarily impacts memory and thinking skills.Vascular Dementia: Often occurs after a stroke and affects problem-solving abilities.Lewy Body Dementia: Characterized by cognitive and motor symptoms and hallucinations.Frontotemporal Dementia: Affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, leading to changes in personality and behavior.Mixed Dementia: A combination of two or more types of dementia.Superfoods for Brain HealthBlueberriesLabeled as brain berries, blueberries are antioxidant-rich fruits that can reduce brain inflammation and oxidative stress, factors contributing to dementia. The flavonoids in blueberries also enhance memory and cognitive performance.TurmericTurmeric contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound. Curcumin crosses the blood-brain barrier, offering potential neuroprotective effects that reduce dementia risk.Leafy Green VegetablesRich in vitamins C and E, folate, beta-carotene, and lutein, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli can lower the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.Fatty FishSalmon, mackerel, and sardines are packed with omega-3 fatty acids vital for brain health. These fatty acids help reduce inflammation, improve blood circulation in the brain, and promote new brain cell growth.Vitamins for Brain HealthVitamin EThis potent antioxidant may reduce Alzheimers risk, one of the most common forms of dementia. It may also prevent the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, characteristic of Alzheimers.Vitamin B12Vital for nervous system functioning, adequate levels of Vitamin B12 can reduce cognitive decline and dementia risk. Seniors should aim for adequate B12 intake through diet or supplements.The Role of B Complex Vitamins, Especially Folic Acid, in Preventing DementiaFolic Acid and Cognitive HealthFolic acid helps break down homocysteine, an amino acid linked to cognitive decline and dementia. It also plays a significant role in DNA and RNA synthesis, necessary for brain cell function and repair.Research on Folic Acids Impact on Dementia RiskHigh folate levels have been linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimers, according to a study in the Journal of Alzheimers Disease. Another study in The Lancet suggested that folic acid supplements could decrease dementia risk.Food Sources of Folic AcidFoods like spinach, kale, and broccoli are excellent folic acid sources and should be included in seniors diets.SummaryWhile there is no definitive cure for dementia, emerging research suggests that specific superfoods, vitamins, and supplements may help in its prevention. Incorporating blueberries, turmeric, leafy greens, and fatty fish into your diet can be a powerful tool for brain health. Vitamins like Vitamin E, B12, and folic acid from the B Complex family have also shown promising results.Remember, these dietary additions should be a part of an overall healthy lifestyle and are not a substitute for a balanced diet. At Florida Senior Consulting, we remain committed to offering seniors the most accurate and helpful information for making informed healthcare choices.Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider for personalized medical advice.Dealing with Senior Loved Ones with DementiaManaging dementia can significantly challenge seniors, their families, and caregivers. By understanding these dementia behaviors and implementing the right strategies, we can provide more effective care and maintain the highest possible quality of life for our loved ones. However, deciding the best care options and senior living communities for your loved one with dementia can be overwhelming. Let us help.At Florida Senior Consulting, we work daily with seniors in all stages of life, from independent living to assisted living to aging at home and those needing memory care.We are a Florida-based company with expert knowledge of the Florida senior market, including memory care. While senior options and decisions can seem confusing, this is all we do. We have certified staff, professional nurse advocates, and decades of experience in the field.If you or a loved one is experiencing dementia-related behaviors, let us help you navigate these challenging waters. Senior living should be on your terms, and the choice should always be yours.Call us, and we will answer all your questions and help you decide what is best for you or your senior loved one.For peace of mind, call us at (800) 969-7176 or visit us at FloridaSeniorConsulting.com.
Shell Point residents are remarkably proactive, and it is common to hear questions about memory and brain function during wellness checkups. While some forgetfulness is a normal part of the aging process, there are many ways to help ones brain stay healthy and active. Here are five simple steps that anyone can take to boost their overall brain power.Get moving! Research links physical activity and the brains ability to process information quickly. Aerobic exercise is particularly effective at stimulating the bodys systems. Morning stretching, aquatic exercise, and evening walks can all get the gears going faster than a sedentary lifestyle would.Hit the links. Take a swing at improving brain function by playing a round of golf. Studies have found that this game can boost brain power, causing positive structural changes tied to sensorimotor control. Listen to music. Numerous studies support the effect that music can have the brain. Not only does it relax the listener, but catchy tunes can improve verbal fluency and spatial processing.Get a good nights sleep. One of the easiest ways to boost brain function is by getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Establish a sleep routine and stick to it; slip in a power nap if you didnt catch enough ZZzzzs.Become a lifelong learner. The brains stays sharpest when it is being used, so take up an educational hobby. Whether it is learning to play an instrument, traveling to new locations, or speaking a second language, studies support lifelong learning.Shell Point residents have access to an onsite medical center staffed by five full-time physicians and three ARNPs. Plus, an array of specialty physicians, ranging from cardiology to orthopedics, see patients onsite at Shell Point. Residents, as well as individuals from outside of Shell Point, have access to The Rehabilitation Center at The Larsen Pavilion, which provides physical, occupational, and speech therapy. For more information about Shell Points comprehensive healthcare, visit http://www.shellpoint.org/healthcare.php.
ENJOY MORE AT MERRILL GARDENS AT BARKLEY PLACEMerrill Gardens at Barkley Place is a beautiful community located in a quiet, charming neighborhood, with shopping, restaurants and local attractions just around the corner. From the beautiful sun porches, balconies, and landscaped grounds, to the fitness center, library, pool, and social gathering spaces, we offer premium amenities that help you live a full life.We understand our residents want to do the things they love the most, and every day here is filled with activity and possibility. We have been serving Fort Myers area residents for more than 20 years. We stand out among the otherindependentandassisted livingcommunities, because the dedicated, compassionate nature of our staff truly sets us apart.