As a person ages, it’s more important than ever before to take care of their bodies and minds. Even though the majority of seniors are in overall good mental health, some older adults are at risk for developing mental health and neurological disorders, particularly depression and dementia.
There is some good news. Regardless of a person’s age, there are a few proactive steps that can be taken to keep a senior’s brain healthy and to reduce the risk of developing depression, dementia, or other types of mental conditions.
Some tips to help seniors maintain their mental fitness can be found here.
In a memory care community, the staff is usually going to engage residents in various activities each day. However, seniors who are still living at home can practice these activities too.
By engaging in memory exercises regularly, it can help to improve both long- and short-term recall. There are several memory exercises to consider.
One example would be to make a list of groceries and then try to memorize it. An hour later, a senior can test themselves to see how many items they could remember.
Some other effective ways to keep a sharp memory is for seniors to do math in their head, draw a map of a place they have visited recently, or memorize the lyrics to a popular or favorite song.
Play some Thinking Games
Some research has proven that brain-training activities can help seniors remain sharp for up to a decade longer. There are several types of thinking games to use, including Scrabble, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and any other game that sees exciting.
Learn a New Skill or Hobby
Taking on or learning a new skill or hobby can help to improve a senior’s cognitive functioning, along with their sense of well-being. For example, learning a foreign language is the process of listening and then internalizing the new sounds that help to stimulate the brain.
The same is true for athletic or artistic pursuits. This includes things like playing a musical instrument or tennis, painting, cooking, or doing something else exciting and enjoyable. By taking the time to learn and cultivate a new hobby, a senior can keep their mind active and always learning.
Engage in Social Interaction
By engaging in social activities regularly and engaging in stimulating conversations, most seniors are unlikely to develop dementia or depression. Make sure to invite family members or friends to the facility to spend time with seniors.
It’s also a good idea to find out about the activities being held by religious groups or in the community. By maintaining these connections, it is possible for a senior to keep spirits up and their mind engaged and busy.
Most people know that chronic stress can cause serious problems for the body and mind. This becomes more and more apparent as a person ages.
While it isn’t always easy to release fears and worries, it’s a good idea to spend time each day to reflect and relax.
Taking a 30-minute walk once a day can do great things for the body and brain. There’s quite a bit of evidence supporting the benefits of how physical exercise preserves mental and memory function.
By exercising regularly, it’s possible to prevent illnesses and conditions that may result in memory loss. These include diabetes, high cholesterol, stroke, obesity, and high blood pressure.
Some studies claim physical activity also triggers the release of BDNF, a protein that promotes healthy nerve cells inside the brain. That may provide a memory boost for seniors.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Concentration and attention are reduced when sleep is restless. This results in mental function not being as sharp as it would for those who get restful, regular sleep.
There are several tips to help a senior get a good night’s rest. One is to avoid eating a big meal right before going to bed. Also, try to go to bed at the same time every night, and get up in the morning at the same time.
Other tips include not drinking alcohol or caffeine too close to bedtime and avoid the use of nicotine right before bed. These actions have been proven to help a senior get a better night’s rest.
Consider Following the Mediterranean Diet
When a senior follows the right diet, it can do great things for their brain and memory. There’s one eating style that’s been proven to help with brain health, more so than others. This is the Mediterranean-style diet.
The Mediterranean diet includes eating plenty of fish, vegetables, and fruits. It’s also essential to reduce the consumption of olive oil and red meat. Seniors who followed this diet carefully were up to 20 percent less likely to have memory or thinking problems.
See a Doctor
As a person gets older, their doctor becomes an invaluable resource to help them stay healthy and happy. Doctors can also determine if there’s a medical condition that’s contributing to their memory loss.
Some of the conditions that may decrease memory and brain health include vitamin deficiency, thyroid disease, diabetes, and depression. There are some medicines, including anxiety and sleep drugs, that can also affect a senior’s ability to remember.
Consider Using Memory Tricks
If a senior is having trouble with their memory, it’s a good idea for them to try and use a few tricks. Each time they hear a new word or name, they can say it out loud to help seal it into the brain. It’s also a good idea to mentally connect each of these new names with an image.
It may also be beneficial for the senior to make notes about things they want to remember. This is a great way to trigger a senior’s memory with a visual aid.
Keeping a Senior’s Mind Sharp
When seniors engage in the activities here, they can feel confident that their mind will remain sharp for as long as possible. This can also help younger people who want to prevent memory problems in the future.