Ways Seniors Can Boost Brain Health

Ways Seniors Can Boost Brain Health
Published Monday, May 11, 2020
by Feature Staff

You may be surprised to learn that certain everyday activities that seniors already enjoy can help boost brain health and maintain memory. Seniors can also add new options to their repertoire to keep an alert and nimble mind as they age. Here are a few ways seniors can boost brain health.

Gardening

It has almost become a cliche, with those garden decorations of what appears to be a grey-haired woman in a pair of polka-dot bloomers bending over to prune the roses. Stereotype or not, many seniors enjoy gardening, tending to flowering plants, or growing healthy vegetables. Gardening gets seniors outside at a safe social distance from others in their own yard. While excess sun exposure is a problem, a little sunshine is required for the body to produce natural vitamin D, which is an essential nutrient helpful in brain health and overall immunity. The gentle bending, lifting, and general movement can improve one's mood and reduce stress.

Meditation

People can learn how to meditate at any age. There are a number of apps that provide guided meditation, but using a guided practice isn't really necessary, as long as seniors learn the basics and find a method that works for them. Simply setting aside several minutes a day to focus the mind on breathing, or a single repeated word, or to simply be still and allow thoughts to flow by, can encourage relaxation and reduce stress.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

A diet rich in antioxidants and healthy fatty acids can delay cognitive decline. In addition to insufficient vitamin D, seniors are susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiencies, which can contribute to confusion and memory problems. A largely plant-based diet with plenty of fresh fruits (especially berries, which are high in antioxidants) and vegetables, a few servings a week of fatty fish like salmon, and limits on red meats and alcohol are ways to maintain brain health. Always check with your doctor before making any dietary changes or adding any dietary supplements. Some supplements react badly with medications and may reduce their effectiveness or even create health dangers.

Exercise Body and Mind

Seniors who maintain a safe social distance can still get outside for a walk. The exercise itself is beneficial, but so is the sense of independence. Seniors should stick to known routes and make sure a family member or caregiver knows where they intend to go and when they expect to be back. Walking provides a cognitive refresh.

When mobility issues limit exercise options, seniors can enjoy brain-challenging puzzles and games that flex the muscle inside the head. Learning something new can even help the brain develop new neural connections.

Aging doesn't have to mean steady cognitive decline, and reduced mobility doesn't mean life has to become so limited that it's stagnant. Seniors have ways to boost brain health through exercise, enjoyable hobbies, taking a class in something new, or doing crossword and jigsaw puzzles.

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