Alzheimer’s Disease is no joking matter. Many people, when they have the occasional lapse of memory, wonder if they really are starting to lose their memory or develop some type of Alzheimer’s. Let’s get into brain health for seniors and what you can do to help!
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) statistics, 20% of adults who are in nursing homes have a primary diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease (that’s over 214,000 people). For many adults who are approaching the far side of middle age, that’s a frightening statistic. Those jokes have the air of gallows humor. There is however, good news on the Alzheimer’s front. Research into risk factors and predisposition have turned up some interesting correlations between general health, social well-being and Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association has some suggestions that may help lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease, and even slow its progression among those who have already started showing symptoms.
Tips to Help Maintain Brain Health For Aging Adults
- Maintain a Healthy & Balanced Diet: It is extremely important that you make sure that elderly relatives are fulfilling all of their nutritional requirements on a daily basis. As they can be extremely vulnerable and prone to illness, a healthy diet is paramount in ensuring that they continue to be as healthy and happy as possible. A healthy diet also contributes to a healthy brain. Whole grains, vegetables and fruits should be their major source of calories, but doctors are starting to take a closer look at fats again. One source of fat that appears to be vital to rebuilding and maintaining brain cells is fish. The omega-3 fatty acids that are found in high concentrations in cold-water fish like tuna and salmon, as well as in shellfish, they are an important ingredient in building neural pathways that function properly. Nutritionists suggest including a source of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet at least three times a week.
- Eat Fruits & Veggies: Moms always tell their children to eat all their veggies, here’s one good reason why seniors should do the same. In one study of over 1,800 elderly men and women, researchers found that those who drank fruit or vegetable juice at least three times a week had a 75% less risk of developing Alzheimer’s than those who drank less than one glass per week. What contributed to this result? Well the answer probably lies in the effects of antioxidants. You see fruit juices – especially berry juices – are among the highest sources of antioxidants around. Dark green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, berries and citrus juices also prove to be excellent sources of antioxidant for the human body. Either you or your senior loved one can make a simple fruit/veggie drink at home.
- Exercise The Brain: When taking care of an aging loved one you should do as much as possible to ensure that they are happy and comfortable in his/her surroundings. You are in control of if they live with you or you’re their primary caregiver and you handle things in their everyday life, establishing a routine can help them feel less like a patient and more in control. This can also help alleviate panic and stress. There are a number of Activities you can do with them or include in their daily routines to help them maintain a healthy brain. Recent studies strongly suggest that elderly people – including those with Alzheimer’s Disease, can improve their memories with practice. Researchers suggest that activities like memory games, crossword puzzles, and challenging mental activities could help the brain create new neural pathways as old brain cells die off.
- Socialize With Family & Friends: In a study of over 2,500 men, those who had the least contact with friends and family were nearly 3 times more likely to develop dementia, as opposed to those who had more active social lives. Social activity & maintaining family and social ties seem to stimulate the brain cells and keep them from atrophying. When’s the last time your loved one meet up with friends, neighbors or went to a social event? When it comes to brain health for seniors, maintaining social connections play a key role.
- Physical Activity Helps Maintain Brain Health: A senior may not be physically able to exercise on a daily basis, however getting twenty minutes of gentle exercise either two or three times a week will make them fell infinitely better than if they were to get no exercise at all. Shopping can be considered exercise if he or she is walking around the mall or the supermarket. Other activities that are great for getting seniors are walking their pet, gardening or sight seeing. Doing household chores, even if it is a basic chore, can be a great exercise for the elderly. Folding laundry, dusting, light vacuuming, and even washing the car are all great exercises. Another simple yet great form of physical activity is dancing. Dancing is a really fun activity that doesn’t feel like exercise. You can older loved one’s favorite music at home and lead them in a private dance party in the living room. There are also lots of local social events for seniors that include dancing, you can easily look those up online. Those were just a few simple activities that can improve health for aging adults. Physical activities will help stretch out joints and alleviate stiffness and can help improve mobility. It will also improve general health because it gets the juices flowing! It may be that exercise, which promotes healthy circulation and gets the blood flowing through your entire body, helps nourish the brain by getting more nutrients to it on a regular basis. Take a walk with your loved one or get them signed up for a swimming class. You can even help them join a senior fitness group to combine social & physical activities into one.
- Make Sure They Get Regular Checkups: You should encourage your loved one to get regular checkups from their doctor to ensure that everything is functioning properly. Any changes in health should be noted and checked out on a regular basis. This regularity will soon form part of a routine, which will give both you and your loved one a level of comfort. It will also help to diagnose any illnesses or diseases in the early stages. This will significantly improve the long-term health of your elder and alert you to anything that may need to be observed in the future.
As we wrap up, here’s the bottom line! There’s no surefire way to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease from developing. However, there are steps you can take to help your loved one maintain or improve their brain health. Seniors should stay fit, get active, plus get out with friends and family often to socialize. Help them do what they can to enjoy your life in their golden years!