There is a common phrase that most people have heard and repeated many times, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” With the research of today, we now know that this is simply not entirely true. Old dogs can learn new tricks! Your brain has a remarkable way of mastering new skills, whatever your age. Newer research has shown that the brain never stops changing in response to learning.
You may or may not have heard the buzz regarding brain neuroplasticity that has been growing in the last decade. So, what is it? Why is it important? What can you do in order to improve your own neuroplasticity?
Neuroplasticity is a broad umbrella term that refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt due to experiences. Neuroplasticity allows nerve cells to be malleable, change, or adjust. However, the brain is not infinitely malleable. Damage in critical areas of the brain such as movement, speech and cognition can result in deficits in those areas. While some recovery may be possible, it is simply not possible for another area of the brain to take over those functions.
Benefits of neuroplasticity include, but are not limited to:
- The ability to learn new things
- The ability to enhance existing cognitive capabilities
- Recovery from strokes and traumatic brain injuries
- Strengthening areas where function is lost or has declined
- Improvements that can boost brain fitness and enhance memory abilities
What can you do to help enhance neuroplasticity? Check with your local Senior Center to see what classes are offered that can encourage your brain to adapt and change.
- Travel and explore new places to expose your brain to new environments and open up new pathways in the brain.
- Create art. Be creative and engage in oil painting, watercolors, acrylics, sewing, gemstone faceting, and more!
- Physical activity and Dancing.
o Find an exercise class that suits your current activity level. Check your local Senior Center for offerings like Silver Sneakers classes, Zumba, Swimming, Yoga, Pilates, Taijifit, Flyswatter Volleyball and more!
o Get up and dance! There is a variety of dance classes suitable to all!
o Try a sport that challenges hand eye coordination like ping-pong, pickle ball, racquetball, or even juggling. For an extra challenge to strengthen the connectivity between neurons, use your non-dominant hand to play!
- Get adequate sleep.
- Learn how to play an instrument.
- Learn a new language.
- Reading Fiction. This can increase connectivity in the brain as well as expand vocabulary, which activates the visual, auditory, and memory processes.
- Intermittent fasting. Research has shown an increase in synaptic adaption, promotion of neuron growth, improvement with overall cognitive function, and the decreased risk of neurodegenerative disease. Always consult with your physician to see if intermittent fasting is appropriate for you.
About the author:
Sara Tucker, MA, CTRS is the Director of Senior Programs at the Colorado Springs Senior Center. Sara has degrees in Therapeutic Recreation and Recreation Administration. Prior to joining the Senior Center, Sara was a clinical Recreation Therapist specializing in neurological rehabilitation. If you have any questions, please call Sara at 719-955-3400.
Running is very accessibleit doesn't require any special equipment or a gym membershipwhich is why so many individuals decide to do it. Running can take a toll on the body, especially when the body is not used to the training or the training intensity changes too much in a short period of time. Injuries are more likely to occur when running without the proper warm-up or attire.Listed below are some common injuries that runners may face, as well as signs and symptoms to look out for.Plantar FasciitisThe plantar fascia is a band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the base of the toes. It supports the arch at the bottom of the foot. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the fascia tissue that links the heel to the base of the toes becomes inflamed. One of the main symptoms of plantar fasciitis is pain in the heel, especially after exercise or first thing in the morning.Achilles TendonitisThe achilles tendon is the band of tissue that connects the calf muscles at the back of the leg to the heel bone. Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury to the achilles tendon. Symptoms can include a mild to severe ache or pain in the back of the leg or above the heel. Tenderness and stiffness in the morning, which gets better with activity, can also occur.IT (Iliotibial) Band SyndromeThe IT band is a thick band of tissue (ligament) that runs on the outside of the leg; it starts at the hip and extends to the outer side of the shinbone below the knee joint. IT band syndrome occurs when the band of tissue gets swollen and irritated from rubbing against the hip or knee bone. Symptoms can include hip or knee pain, redness, and warmth around the outside of the knee. The symptoms may start after exercise, and as they worsen, you will feel pain during exercise and during rest periods.Runners KneeRunners knee is a dull and aching pain that is felt behind the knee cap, especially where it meets the femur. Symptoms of runner's knee can include swelling, popping or grinding of the knee, and pain around or behind the knee.Ankle SprainAnkle sprains are one of the most common injuries that occur at all ages and at all activity levels. Ankle sprains occur when the ankle ligaments are stretched beyond their limits and tear. Sprains can range from a tiny tear to a complete tear of the ligament. Symptoms of ankle sprains can include swelling, pain, bruising, tenderness, and instability of the ankle.FracturesFractures are breaks or cracks in a bone. There are different kinds of fractures and different severities. Symptoms of fractures can include swelling, bruising, tenderness, or deformity. Fractures can occur in most bones; the most common area for fractures to occur in runners is in the foot or ankle.If you are experiencing any of the conditions or symptoms listed above, please call our office at 239 - 325 - 4090 to schedule an appointment for evaluation.
Often the hardest part of doing something new is getting started, and that's especially true about exercise. This article from AARP makes it easy to get started with the most important exercise to help you age healthy: squats. Five or ten squats are easy to do while you wait for the coffee to brew or the microwave to finish heating.Even when we're healthy we sometimes need a little extra help with the house or errands. Visit our website at www.rosehillathome.com to learn more about how Rose Hill Stay-at-Home Services can help you or a loved one stay in independent and at home.
For many families, the holidays are the only time they have to spend together, and COVID-19 has made that more challenging. Phone calls and emails are great ways to connect with loved ones from afar, but the distance can make it hard to notice changes in a persons appearance or surroundings that could indicate they need help. During socially-distanced, masked visits or on video chat, families should pay attention to: The Condition of the HomeIs it messier or more cluttered than usual?Is there spoiled food in the refrigerator or cupboards?Are bills not being paid on time?Are household goods being put away in the wrong places?The Persons ConditionDo they have unexplained weight loss?Are they wearing clothes that are dirty or inappropriate for the weather?Are they having trouble with toileting or basic hygiene such as showering or brushing their teeth?Have they fallen recently?Do they appear to be off-balance?Are they having difficulty sleeping?The Persons BehaviorsAre they missing scheduled medical visits or telehealth appointments?Are they forgetting to refill prescriptions or take medications as prescribed?Do they seem confused when you talk to them about topics theyd normally understand?Are they exhibiting any personality changes or mood swings?These sorts of deficits could be a sign that they need extra help. At ComForCare Home Care, we understand the challenges that can arise with aging. Home care can help older adults continue to live independently in their own home and do all the things they love. Contact us today to learn more about how we help people live their best lives possible. Please call us with any questions, 720-575-5576.