Keeping your brain sharp
Scientists know a lot about the human brain. While the brain accounts for only 2 percent of the whole body’s mass, it uses 20 percent of all the oxygen we breathe and 20 percent of the body’s blood. And – unlike a knee or even a heart – it cannot be replaced. MRI images show the brain shrinks if you do not use it, so seniors may consider adding these proven brain-boosting habits to their daily routines to keep their brains sharp.
Eat the healthy fats
Fat has gotten a bad rap over the years – but the information has changed, and so should your habits. A 2012 study in the Journal of Alzheimer's Research reveals that people who consumed the most fat had a 35 percent decreased risk of developing mild cognitive impairment or dementia when compared to those who consumed the least fat. Examples of healthy fats include eggs, walnuts, avocado, and olives. Seniors should consider starting their days with eggs, snacking on walnuts, or adding avocados as a mid-afternoon snack to help keep their brains healthy. Newer research has also suggested omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts are known to calm inflammation that can lead to brain-cell death. These same fatty acids also replenish lost melatonin, which is necessary for healthy brain function.
Find a support network
It is not easy to watch friends and relatives battle hard times, illness, or loss, and the chronic stress these situations often bring can diminish your brain's memory center. Researchers at the University of Michigan explored the possibility that social interaction improves mental functioning, testing participants' level of cognitive functioning and comparing it with the frequency of their social interactions. The revelation? Those who engage in social interaction showed higher levels of cognitive performance than the control group. Friendships help ward off memory loss and dementia and give us a sense of purpose and belonging. The next time you ask how someone is doing, aim to really stop and listen to his or her response, and ask follow-up questions. You may be helping your neighbor down the hall live a longer, more active life!
Take a coffee nap
The importance of sleep cannot be overstated, and we have long known about coffee’s link to a reduced risk for Parkinson’s and possibly dementia. But there is a new game in town: A strong cup of coffee followed by a 15- to 20-minute sleep. Coined the “coffee nap” by researchers at Loughborough University, who conducted a study that showed this type of power nap is more effective in increasing levels of alertness than either coffee or sleep alone. The idea is based on the fact that caffeine takes about 20 minutes to be absorbed and pass into the bloodstream, where it is eventually transported to the brain. The study was published almost 20 years ago, but has recently hit the headlines again. “It all boils down to body chemistry,” writes the Huffington Post. “Specifically, to the competing effects of caffeine and adenosine, a drowsiness-inducing chemical compound that accumulates in your brain when you're awake and dissipates as you sleep.”
At Holiday Retirement, we focus on The Layers of the Holiday Lifestyle. We provide our residents with life-enriching activities and events that benefit them in seven key aspects: physically, intellectually, socially, emotionally, creatively, spiritually, and vocationally. This unique combination of resident enrichment activities helps foster positive brain activity keeping residents’ minds sharp and active.
Interested in learning more about one of Holiday Retirement’s independent senior living communities? Contact us!