What is Brain Health?
Brain health refers to how well someone’s brain functions across several areas and includes:
- Cognitive health – how well we think, learn, and remember
- Motor function – how well we make and control our movements, including balance
- Emotional function – how well we interpret and respond to emotions (both pleasant and unpleasant)
- Tactile function – how well we feel and respond to sensations of touch, including pressure, pain, and temperature
Brain health can be affected by injuries or illnesses like stroke, head injuries, depression, substance use, or dementia. And as we get older, our brain health, just like our physical health, can worsen. While some of these things can’t be changed, there are lifestyle changes you can make that can help you to maintain a healthy brain as you get older.
How to Support Brain Health As You Get Older
We now know more than ever about brain health and how to support it as we get older. Research has shown that maintaining and even improving brain health and mental functioning in old age is linked to:
1. Staying Physically Active
Research has found that physical activity, especially aerobic activity, may diminish cognitive impairment and reduce the risk of dementia.
2. Staying Connected Socially
Staying connected to others has been shown to improve brain health. If you live alone and don’t have a lot of chances to socialize, consider getting a pet. Pet ownership has been shown to improve memory, suggesting that owning a pet could help to reduce the risk of developing dementia.
3. Managing Stress
Taking steps to manage stress can help you to maintain and improve brain health.
4. Taking Care of Your Mental Health
Mental health conditions like depression can impact our brain health negatively. Managing your mental health also helps you to manage your brain health.
5. Reducing Risks to Cognitive Health
Having high blood pressure, which can lead to stroke, or other lifestyle factors can affect your cognitive health negatively.
6. Preventing Head Injuries
Head injuries can cause cognitive impairment, so taking steps to prevent them is important. Wear a helmet when riding a bike or motorcycle, always wear your seatbelt when driving or riding in a vehicle, ensure safety in the home, and always take steps to avoid falls and other accidents.
7. Keeping Your Brain Active
One of the most important things you can do to maintain brain health as you age is to keep your brain active. Challenging your brain has both short-term and long-term positive effects on brain health.
The Importance of Keeping Our Brains Active as We Get Older
Research has shown that one of the most important things you can do when it comes to protecting and promoting your brain health is keeping your brain active, especially as you get older. In one study, mentally intact people in their 70s and 80s were asked how often they did six activities that required active mental engagement – reading, writing, doing crossword puzzles, playing board or card games, engaging in group discussions, and playing music. Over a period of five years, this group was studied, and those who placed in the highest third in terms of how often they engaged in mentally stimulating activities were half as likely to develop mild cognitive impairment.
5 Ways for Seniors to Keep Their Brains Active
1. Read More
Research has consistently shown that reading more improves cognitive function, especially as we get older. One study from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that reading books and magazines can help to keep memory and thinking skills intact.
2. Try Some Puzzles
If reading isn’t your thing, don’t worry. You can still reap the benefits of keeping your brain active by participating in other mentally stimulating activities. Puzzles – whether it’s jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, Sudoku, or something else – can also help to keep our mental skills strong.
3. Play Games
Games are fun, but they’re more than that. Games can actually help to keep our brains healthy because, like reading and puzzles, they keep our brains active. Whether you like board games, card games, chess, or even video games, you can have fun while also improving your cognitive skills, especially if it’s a game that requires you to think strategically.
4. Create Something
You can draw or paint, write (a short story, poem or just in a journal), sculpt or mold, or even build something – as long as you’re challenging your brain.
5. Enjoy a Favorite Hobby
Whether it’s something you’ve been doing for years, or a new interest, participating in a hobby can keep your cognitive facilities going strong. Knitting, sewing, gardening, woodwork, sports, or music can help to keep your mind active.
Looking to Keep Your Brain Active as You Get Older?
As we age, it gets harder to keep our brains healthy. It’s especially hard for seniors who live alone or who have small social circles. Staying healthy, socializing with others, managing stress and depression, and keeping our brains active all contribute to continued cognitive health as we get older, but seniors often don’t have access to the opportunities or resources needed to do those things. That’s why many people choose to make the move to a senior living community.
At Eagle Flats Village, we provide our residents with access to services and amenities that empower them to fuel their bodies, brighten their minds, and enhance their spirit. Our community supports and encourages social interaction, healthy habits, and plenty of mentally and physically engaging activities to ensure residents enjoy a full, productive, and carefree life.
Ready to find out more? Schedule a visit today.