How to Make a Positive Impact on Your Loved One’s Cognitive HealthOctober 17, 2022
How to Make a Positive Impact on Your Loved One’s Cognitive Health
“Cognitive health” is probably not something you considered in your younger years. But as you and your loved ones age, “cognitive health” becomes a phrase that you hear quite regularly. It refers to the mental processes that involve learning, intuition, judgment, language, and remembering. It impacts our ability to perform both complex and basic activities of daily living.
As people age, they may experience a decline in their cognitive health. This is most often experienced in those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia, but many seniors experience some form of cognitive decline at some point. It may seem practically impossible to fight it, but you can, however, make a positive impact on your loved one’s cognitive health.
Whether you are noticing a decline in your loved one’s mental processes or simply are wanting to act preventatively, remember these tips. You may need to incorporate some of them into their lives, and others you may already do daily.
Prepare quality meals
A healthy diet has not only been shown to be great for your physical health but your mental health too. There is evidence that the Mediterranean diet could help lower the risk of developing dementia due to its effect on cardiovascular health. This diet focuses on the consumption of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and good fat.
Before making any changes to your loved one’s diet, speak with their doctor. There may be certain ingredients they should, or should not, eat due to medication or other conditions. In general, however, foods with antioxidants and DHA omega-3 fatty acids are great for brain health.
Keep them physically active
One study found that exercise stimulates the human brain’s ability to maintain old network connections, as well as make new ones. Others have found that exercise increases the size of the brain, which is important for memory and learning. Currently, researchers are studying a connection between physical activity and Alzheimer’s prevention.
Encourage your loved one to get their blood pumping at least a few times a week. It is recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week, which is roughly 21 minutes a day. Your loved one’s mobility will determine what that exercise looks like.
Some could manage regular visits to the gym, while others may have to stick to walks or chair yoga. No matter what it is, the health benefits will be worth it.
Help them stay social
Social isolation is a major problem for many seniors—especially those who live at home. Those who experience higher levels of loneliness and depression are more likely to see an increased risk of health problems across the board, including cognitive decline. A strong social network provides older adults with the emotional support they need.
Keep your loved ones socially active by scheduling regular get-togethers with family members. You could even help them find a class (whether that’s a hobby or an exercise class) where they can meet up with old friends and make new ones. When they’re at home help them keep in contact with family and friends by showing them how to use social media platforms.
Stick to a routine
Once they retire, many seniors feel a sort of aimlessness about their lives. Help your loved one stay regularly engaged with a daily routine of activities. Routines give seniors a sense of stability they may be lacking in their lives, which is great for their mental health.
Figure out some key activities to center your loved one’s day around. This could be making breakfast at a certain time, cleaning a room of the house on a specific day, or scheduling meetings with loved ones every week.
Maintain their hobbies (or start new ones)
Hobbies like puzzles, video games, and other crafts all boost quick-thinking skills, decision-making, and short-term memory. Carve time out in your loved one’s daily routine to fit in with their favorite hobbies. If they don’t have one yet, that’s okay. Encourage them to sign up for a class or read a new book to find something they enjoy.
Music, in particular, has proven to be cognitive in fighting cognitive decline. Listening to music, learning a new instrument, and continuing to practice one’s instrument have all been shown to be beneficial to one’s cognitive health.
Keep an eye on any medical conditions
It’s natural for seniors to develop certain health conditions as they age. However, it is essential that you do what you can to maintain their physical and mental health. Chronic health conditions (like high blood pressure), certain medications, alcohol use, smoking, and poor sleep all have a serious impact on your cognitive health.
Paying attention to their health is only the beginning. Make sure your loved one attends regular doctor’s appointments to stay on top of any concerns.
A home caregiver can make their life easier
If you have a full-time job, managing that on top of your loved one’s cognitive health is a daunting task. Instead of shouldering all the work on your own, enlist the help of an at-home caregiver. They can take over meal preparation, developing a routine, and other activities of daily living that make a positive impact on your loved one’s cognitive health.
The caregivers with Home Care Powered by AUAF are here to help. To learn about how our staff can help improve their quality of life, call us at 773-274-9262.
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